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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 



BEING 

THE HISTORY OF A CRIME 



BDITBD PROM THE MS. OP THE EEV. ROBERT DRIVER, B.D. 



GODFREY R. BENSON 



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AD 

DOROTHEAM 



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CHAPTER I. 

On the morning of the 29th of January, 1896, 
Eustace Peters was found murdered in his bed 
at his house, Grenvile Combe, in the parish of 
Long Wilton, of which I was then rector. 

Much mystery attached to the circumstances 
of his death. It was into my hands that chance 
threw the clue to this mystery, and it is for me, 
if for any one, to relate the facts. 

To the main fact of all, the death of my own 
friend on the eve, as I sometimes fancy, of a 
fuller blossoming of his powers, my writing 
cannot give the tragic import due to it, for 
it touched my own life too nearly. I had 
come — I speak of myself, for they tell me a 
narrator must not thrust himself quite into the 
background — I had come to Long Wilton, 

^1 «_ _r r 11 M^-s. u?_ _^ 



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a TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

qualified to hold it Country-bred, fond of 
country people and of country pastimes, I had 
not imagined, when I came, either the diffi- 
culties of a country parson's task or the false 
air of sordidness which those difficulties would 
at first wear to me ; still less was I prepared 
for the loneliness which at first befell me in a 
place where, though many of my neighbours 
were wise men and good men, none ever 
showed intellectual interests or talked with 
any readiness of high things. The comrade- 
ship of Peters, who settled there a few months 
after me, did more than to put an end to my 
loneliness; by shrewd, casual remarks, which 
were always blunt and unexpected but never 
seemed intrusive or even bore the semblance 
of advice, he had, without dreaming of it — for 
he cared very little about the things of the 
Church — shown me the core of most of my 
parish difficulties and therewith the way to deal 
with them. So it was that with my growing 
affection for the man there was mingled an ex- 
cessive feeling of mental dependence upon him. 
So it was that upon that January morning 
a great blank entered into my life. Matters 
full of interest, in my pursuits of the weeks and 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 3 

months that went before, are gone from my 
memory like dreams. My whole sojourn at 
Long Wilton, important as it was to me, is a 
thing dimly remembered, like a page of some 
other man's biography. Even as I call to 
mind that actual morning I cannot think of 
the immediate horror, only of the blank that 
succeeded and remains. I believe that no one, 
upon whom any like loss has come suddenly, 
will wonder if I take up my tale in a dry-eyed 
fashion. I can use no other art in telling it 
but that of letting the facts become known as 
strictly as may be in the order in which they 
became known to me. 

Eustace Peters, then, was a retired official 
of the Consular Service, and a man of varied 
culture and experience — too much varied, I 
may say. He had been at Oxford shortly 
before my time. I gathered from the school 
prizes on his library shelves that he went there 
with considerable promise ; but he left without 
taking his degree or accomplishing anything 

J_£-I^ ^ • 2_ U!- _-1l t?!-U /- 



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4 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

Oxford, except its distinctive shyness, and had, 
characteristically, begun the studies of his later 
years in surroundings less conducive to study. 
He left Oxford upon getting some appointment 
in the East Whether this first appointment 
was in a business house or in the Consular 
Service, where exactly it had been and what 
were the later stages of his career, I cannot 
tell, for he talked very little of himself. Evi- 
dently, however, his Eastern life had been full 
of interest for him, and he had found unusual 
enjoyment in mingling with and observing the 
strange types of European character which he 
met among his fellow-exiles, if I may so call 
them. He had ultimately left the Consular 
Service through illness or some disappointment, 
or both. About that time an aunt of his died 
and left him the house, Grenvile Combe, at 
Long Wilton, in which a good deal of his 
boyhood had been spent He came there, as 
I have said, soon after my own arrival, and 
stayed on, not, as it seemed to me, from any 
settled plan. There he passed much of his 
time in long country rambles (he had been, I 
believe, a keen sportsman, and had now become 
a keen naturalist), much of it in various studies, 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 5 

chiefly philosophic or psychological. He was 
writing a book on certain questions of psycho* 
logy, or, perhaps I should say, preparing to 
write it, for the book did not seem to me to 
progress. My wife and I were convinced that 
he had a love story, but we gathered no hint 
of what it may have been. He was forty-three 
when he died. 

This is, I think, all that I need now set down 
as to the personality of the murdered man. 
But I cannot forbear to add that, while his 
interrupted career and his somewhat desultory 
pursuits appeared inadequate to the reputation 
which he had somehow gained for ability, he 
certainly gave me the impression of preserving 
an uncompromisingly high standard, a keenly if 
fitfully penetrating mind and a latent capacity 
for decisive action. As I write these words it 
occurs to me that he would be living now if this 
impression of mine had not been shared by a 
much cleverer man than I. 

On the 28th my wife was away from home, 
and I had supper at Grenvile Combe, going 
there about seven o'clock. There were three 
other guests at supper, James Callaghan, 
CLE., William Vane-Cartwright, and one 



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6 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

Melchior Thalberg. Callaghan was an old 
school-fellow of Peters, and the two, though for 
years they must have seen each other seldom, 
appeared to have always kept up some sort of 
friendship. I knew Callaghan well by this time, 
for he had been staying three weeks at Grenvile 
Combe, and he was easy to know, or rather 
easy to get on with. I should say that I liked 
the man, but that I am seldom sure whether I 
like an Irishman, and that my wife, a far shrewder 
judge than I, could not bear him. He was a 
great, big-chested Irishman, of the fair-haired, 
fresh-coloured type, with light blue eyes. A 
weather-worn and battered countenance (con- 
trasting with the youthful erectness and agility 
of his figure), close-cut whiskers and a heavy 
greyish moustache, a great scar across one 
cheek-bone and a massive jaw, gave him at 
first a formidable appearance. The next mo- 
ment this might seem to be belied by something 
mobile about his mouth and the softness of his 
full voice ; but still he bore the aspect of a man 
prone to physical violence. He was plausible ; 
very friendly (was it, one asked, a peculiarly 
loyal sort of friendliness or just the reverse) ; a 
copious talker by fits and starts, with a great 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 7 

wealth of picturesque observation— or invention. 
Like most of my Irish acquaintance he kept one 
in doubt whether he would take an exceptionally 
high or an exceptionally low view of any matter ; 
unlike, as I think, most Irishmen, he was the 
possessor of real imaginative power. He had 
(as I gathered from his abundant anecdote*) 
been at one time in the Army and later in the 
Indian Civil Service. In that service he seemed 
to have been concerned with the suppression of 
crime, and to have been lately upon the North- 
West Frontier. He was, as I then thought, at 
home on leave, but, as I have since learned, he 
had retired. Some notable exploit or escapade 
of his had procured him the decoration which 
he wore on every suitable and many unsuitable 
occasions, but it had also convinced superior 
authorities that he must on the first opportunity 
be shelved. 

Vane-Cartwright, with nothing so distinctive 
in his appearance, was obviously a more remark- 



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8 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

had formerly had something to do with the far 
East, and now had considerable dealings with 
Italy. He had acquired, I knew, quickly but 
with no whisper of dishonour, very great wealth ; 
and he was about, as I gathered from some 
remark of Peters, to marry a very charming 
young lady, Miss Denison, who was then ab- 
sent on the Riviera He had about a fortnight 
before come down to the new hotel in our 
village for golf, and had then accidentally met 
Peters who was walking with me. I understood 
that he had been a little junior to Peters at 
Oxford, and had since been acquainted with 
him somewhere in the East Peters had asked 
him to dinner at his house, where Callaghan 
was already staying. I had heard Peters tell 
him that if he came to those parts again he 
must stay with him. I had not noted the 
answer, but was not surprised afterwards to find 
that Vane-Cartwright, who had returned to 
London the day after I first met him, had since 
come back rather suddenly, and this time to 
stay with Peters. He now struck me as a 
cultured man, very different from Peters in 
all else but resembling him in the curious 
range and variety of his knowledge, reserved 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 9 

and as a rule silent but incisive when he did 
speak. 

Thalberg, though not the most interesting of 
the company, contributed, as a matter of fact, 
the most to my enjoyment on that occasion. I 
tried hard some days later to recall my impres- 
sions of that evening, of which every petty inci- 
dent should by rights have been engraven on my 
memory, but the recollection, which, so to speak, 
put all the rest out, was that of songs by Schu- 
bert and Schumann which Thalberg sang. I 
drew him out afterwards on the subject of music, 
on which he had much to tell me, while Vane- 
Cartwright and our host were, I think, talking 
together, and Callaghan appeared to be dozing. 
Thalberg was of course a German by family, but 
he talked English as if he had been in Eng- 
land from childhood. He belonged to that race 
of fair, square-bearded and square-foreheaded 
German business men, who look so much alike 
to us, only he was smaller and looked more 
insignificant than most of them, his eyes were 



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io TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

I remember having for some reason puzzled 
myself as to how Vane-Cartwright regarded 
him. 

I must at this point add some account of the 
other persons who were in or about Peters' 
house. There were two female servants in the 
house; an elderly cook and housekeeper, Mrs. 
Travers, who was sharp-visaged and sharp- 
tongued, but who made Peters very comfortable, 
and a housemaid, Edith Summers, a plain, 
strong and rather lumpish country girl, who 
was both younger and more intelligent than she 
looked. It subsequently appeared that these 
two were in the house the whole evening and 
night, and, for all that can be known, asleep all 
night in the servants' quarters, which formed an 
annex to the house connected with it by a short 
covered way. In a cottage near the gate into 
the lane lived a far more notable person, Reuben 
Trethewy, the gardener and doer of odd jobs, 
a short, sturdy, grizzled man, of severe counten- 
ance, not over clean. Peters was much attached 
to him for his multifarious knowledge and skill. 
He had been a seaman at some time, had been, 
it seemed, all sorts of things in all sorts of places, 
and was emphatically a handy man. He was 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW n 

as his name implies a Cornishman, and had 
come quite recently to our neighbourhood, to 
which in the course of a roving existence he 
was attracted by the neighbourhood of his uncle, 
Silas Trethewy, a farmer who lived some three 
miles off. He was now a man of Methodistical 
professions, and most days, to do him justice, of 
Methodistical practice ; but I, who was perhaps 
prejudiced against him by his hostility to the 
Church, believed him to be subject to bitter and 
sullen moods, knew that he was given to out- 
bursts of drinking, and heard from his neigh- 
bours that drink took him in a curious way, 
affecting neither his gait, nor his head, nor his 
voice, nor his wits, but giving him a touch of 
fierceness which made men glad to keep out of 
his way. With him lived his wife and daugh- 
ter. The wife was, I thought, a decent woman, 
who kept her house straight and who came to 
church ; but I had then no decided impression 
about her, though she had for some time taught 
in my Sunday school, and had once or twice 
favoured me with a long letter giving her views 
about it The daughter was a slight, childish- 
looking girl, whom I knew well, because she 
was about to become a pupil teacher, and who 



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12 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

was a most unlikely person to play a part in a 
story of this kind. 

Our party that evening broke up when, about 
ten o'clock, I rose to go ; and Thalberg, whose 
best way to the hotel lay through the village, 
accompanied me as far as the Rectory, which 
was a quarter of a mile off and was the nearest 
house in the village. We walked together 
talking of German poetry and what not, and 
I cannot forget the disagreeable sense which 
came upon me in the course of our talk, that a 
layer of stupidity or of hard materialism, or 
both, underlay the upper crust of culture which 
I had seemed to find in the man when we had 
spoken of music. However, we parted good 
friends at the Rectory gate, and I was just going 
in when I recollected some question about the 
character of a candidate for Confirmation, on 
which I had meant to have spoken to Peters 
that night. I returned to his house and found 
him still in his library. The two guests who 
were staying in the house had already gone to 
bed. I got the information and advice which 
I had wanted — it was about a wild but rather 
attractive young fellow who had once looked 
after a horse which Peters had kept, but who 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 13 

was now a groom in the largest private stables 
in the neighbourhood. As I was leaving, Peters 
took up some books, saying that he was going to 
read in bed. He stood with me for a moment 
at the front door looking at the frosty starlight. 
It was a clear but bitterly cold night I well 
remember telling him as we stood there that he 
must expect to be disturbed by unusual noises 
that night, as a great jollification was taking 
place at the inn up the road, and my parishioners, 
who realised the prelate's aspiration for a free 
rather than a sober England, would return past 
his house in various stages of riotous exhilara- 
tion. He said that he had more sympathy with 
them than he ought to have, and that in any 
case they should not disturb him. Very likely, 
he added, he would soon be asleep past rousing. 
And so, about a quarter to eleven, I parted 
from him, little dreaming that no friendly eyes 
would ever meet his again. 



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CHAPTER II. 

I was up early on the 29th. Snow lay thick on 
the ground but had ceased falling, and it was 
freezing hard, when, while waiting for breakfast, 
I walked out as far as my gate on the village 
street to see what the weather was like. Sud- 
denly Peters' housemaid came running down 
to the village on her way, as it proved, to the 
police-station. Before passing she paused, and 
breathlessly told me the news. I walked quickly 
to Peters' house. Several neighbours were 
already gathering about the gate of the drive 
but did not enter. I rang the bell, was admitted 
by the housekeeper and walked straight up to 
Peters' bedroom. Callaghan and Vane-Cart- 
wright were there already, the former half- 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 15 

pleasant-faced young constable, who brought 
with him the village doctor, an ambitious, up-to- 
jdate youth who had lately come to those parts. 

I have some little difficulty in saying what 
I then observed; for indeed, though I looked 
intently enough on the dead face and figure, 
and noticed much about them that is not to my 
present purpose, I took in for myself very little 
that bore on that problem of detection which 
has since interested me so much. I cannot now 
distinguish the things which I really saw upon 
hearing the others mention them from the things 
which I imagine myself seeing because I knew 
they were mentioned then or later. In fact I 
saw chiefly with the eyes of the Sergeant, who 
set about his inquiries with a quiet promptitude 
that surprised me in one whom I knew only as 
a burly, steady, slow-speaking, heavy member 
of the force. 

There was litde to note about the barely 
furnished room which showed no traces of dis- 
order. On the top of some drawers on the left 



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ifl TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

small table on the other side of the bed stood a 
candlestick, the candle burnt to the socket ; by 
it lay two closed books. Under the table near 
the bed lay, as if it had fallen from the dead 
man's hand or off his bed, a book with several 
leaves crumpled and torn, as if, in his first alarm, 
or as he died, Peters had caught them in a spas* 
modic clutch. I looked to see what it was, 
merely from the natural wish to know what had 
occupied my friend's mind in his last hour. It 
was Borrow's Bible in Spain. When I saw the 
title an indistinct recollection came to me of 
some very recent mention of the book by some 
one, and with it came a faint sense that it was 
important I should make this recollection clear. 
But either I was too much stunned as yet to 
follow out the thought, or I put it aside as a 
foolish trick of my brain, and the recollection, 
whatever it was, is gone. The position of the 
body and the arrangement of the pillows gave 
no sign of any struggle having taken place. 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 17 

this myself, and I cannot be sure that anybody 
noted it accurately at the time. 

The surgeon stepped quickly to the body, 
slightly raised the left arm, drew aside the 
already open jacket of the sleeping suit, and 
silently indicated the cause of death. This was 
a knife, a curious, long, narrow, sharp knife for 
surgical use, which the murderer had left there, 
driven home between two of his victim's ribs. 
I say "the murderer/' for the surgeon's first 
words were, €< Not suicide ". I had no suspicion 
of suicide, but thought that he pronounced this 
judgment rather hastily, and that the Sergeant 
was right when he asked him to examine the 
posture of the body more closely. He did so, 
still, as I thought, perfunctorily, and gave certain 
reasons which did not impress either my judg- 
ment or my memory. I was more convinced by 
his remark that he had studied in Berlin and 
was familiar with the appearances of suicide. I 
may say at once that it appeared afterwards, at 
the inquest, that there was reason to think that 
Peters had not had such a knife, for he never 



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18 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

cautions against being traced, by carefully obli- 
terating the maker's name and other marks on 
it with a file! 

In the midst of our observations in the room 
a vexatious interruption happened. I have 
forgotten to say that the servants had been 
sent out of the room by the police-sergeant, and 
that, almost immediately after, the constable 
who brought the doctor had been sent down to 
examine the outside of the house. For some 
reason he was slow in setting about this ; it is 
possible that he stopped to talk to the servants, 
but in any case, he went out through the kitchen, 
and explored first the back of the house, where 
he thought he knew of an easy way of making 
an entrance. Meanwhile the neighbours, who 
had collected about the gate, had been drawn 
by their curiosity into the garden, and by the 
time the constable had got round to the front 
of the house several were wandering about the 
drive and the lawn which lay between it and the 
road. They had no more harmful intention 
than that of gazing and gaping at the windows, 
but it led to the very serious consequence that 
a number of tracks had now been made in the 
snow which might very possibly frustrate a 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 19 

r 

search for the traces of the criminal This the 
Sergeant now noticed from the window. 

As for the actual carriage-drive F was fortun- 
ately able to remember (and it was the only 
useful thing that I did observe for myself) that 
when I had arrived there had been no foot- 
marks between the gate and the front door 
except the unmistakable print of the goloshes 
worn by the housemaid on her way to call the 
police. But the tracks on the lawns and else- 
where about the house might cause confusion. 

Upon seeing what was happening the Ser- 
geant asked Vane-Cartwright, Callaghan and 
myself to await him in Peters' study, while he 
went out to drive away the intruders, to make 
the constable keep others out and to pursue 
his own investigations. While we waited Vane- 
Cartwright, who had spoken little but seemed 
to watch all proceedings very attentively, made 
the sensible suggestion that Wje should look for 
Peters' will, as we ought to know who were his 
executors. We consulted the housekeeper, who 
pointed out the drawer in which the few papers 
of importance were kept, and there we soon 
found a will in a scaled envelope. The first few 
lines, which were all that we read, showed me 



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x> TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

that, as I bad expected, I was Peters' executor 
along with an old friend of his whom I had 
never met but who, I believed, as was the fact, 
now lived in America, 

The Sergeant now rejoined us ; he Ijjul dis- 
covered nothing outside, and, though the tracks 
of the intruders made it difficult to be certain, 
he believed that there was nothing to discover : 
he thought that the murderer had approached 
the house before the snow began to fall, and he 
found no sign that he had entered the house in 
the manner of a housebreaker. He had, I must 
say, taken a very short time about his search. 
He wished now that the servants should be 
summoned, as of course it was necessary to 
make inquiries about the movements of all per- 
sons connected with the house. But he was 
here delayed by Callaghan who had matters of 
importance to relate. 

He and Vane-Cartwright had been disturbed 
during the night in a notable manner. They 
had actually had an alarm of murder, and curi- 
ously enough a false and even ludicrous alarm. 
^^ About 11.30 o'clock they had been roused by 
loud shouting outside the house, amid which 
Callaghan declared that he had distinguished a 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW at 

cry of murder.- He had come tumbling out of 
his room, calling Vane-Cartwright, who slept in 
the next room, and who immediately joined him 
in the passage. Without waiting to call Peters, 
whose loom was some distance from theirs and 
from the staircase by which they descended 
(for there were two staircases in the main part 
of the house), they went to the front door and 
opened it The flash of a bull's-eye lantern in 
the road, the policeman's voice quietly telling 
some revellers to go home and the immediate , 
cessation of the noise, showed them that they had 
been roused by nothing more serious than the 
drunken uproar which I had predicted to Peters 
would disturb him. The two men had returned 
to their rooms after locking the front door again ; 
they had noticed that the library door was open 
and the lights out in that room ; they had noticed 
also as they went upstairs (this time by the 
other staircase) light shining through the chink 
under Peters' bedroom door; and they had 
heard him knock out the ashes of a pipe against 
the mantelpiece. The pipe now lay on die 
mantelpiece ; and, of course, that particular noise 
is unmistakable. They concluded that, though 
he was awake and probably reading, he had not 



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22 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

thought the noise outside worth noticing. Cal- 
laghan added that he himself had lain awake 
some time, and that for half an hour afterwards 
there had been occasionally sounds of talking 
or shouting in the lane, once even a renewal of 
something like the first uproar. 

The report subsequently received from the 
constable who had been on duty along the road 
that night confirmed the above, and a little 
reflexion made it appear that the disturbance 
outside had nothing to do with the murder. 
In fact the only thing connected with this inci- 
dent which much impressed me at the time was 
Callaghan's manner in relating it. He had up 
to now been very silent, he now began to talk 
with furious eagerness. He readily saw and 
indeed suggested that the disturbance which he 
related was of little consequence. But having 
to tell of it he did so with a vividness which 
was characteristic of him, so that one saw 
the scene as he described it, saw indeed more 
than there was to see, for he spoke of the ground 
already white and the snow falling in thick 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 23 

angrily persisting, and the Sergeant appealed 
to Vane-Cartwright, who up till now had said 
little, merely confirming Callaghan's narrative 
at various points with a single syllable or with 
a nod of his head, but who now said that Cal- 
laghan was wrong about the snow. He added 
the benevolent explanation that Callaghan, who 
was really much excited, had combined the im- 
pressions of their false alarm over night with 
those of their all too real alarm in the morning. 



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CHAPTER III. 

Hereupon Callaghan, who had a more impor- 
tant matter to relate, changed the subject 
abruptly by saying, " Sergeant, have your eye 
on that man Trethewy". He told us that, ten 
days before, Trethewy had quarrelled with his 
master. Peters, he said, had met Trethewy in 
the drive, at a point which he indicated, and, 
noticing a smell of spirits, had firmly but quietly 
taken him to task, telling him that his occasional 
drinking was becoming & serious matter. Cal- 
laghan had come up at the moment and had 
heard Trethewy, who was by his account dan- 
gerous with drink at the time, answer with surly 
insolence, making some malicious counter-insin- 
uation against his master's own habits, exploding 
for a moment into wild anger, in which he seemed 
about to strike his master, but to refrain upon 
catching sight of Callaghan's powerful frame 
beside him, then subsiding again into surliness 
and finally withdrawing to his own cottage with 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 25 

muttered curses and a savage threat This was 
the substance of Callaghan's statement But 
there was a great deal in it besides substance ; 
the whole of the conversation, from the moment 
at which Callaghan came up, was professedly 
repeated word for word with a slight but dra- 
matic touch of mimicry, and the tone and temper 
of master and man were vividly rendered. I 
can never myself remember the words of any 
conversation, and for that reason I am unable 
now to set out Callaghan s narrative, and was 
unable at the time to put faith in its accuracy. 
Here and there a phrase was presumably truly 
given because it was given in Trethewy's own 
dialect, but once at least the unhappy Trethewy 
was made responsible for a remark which he 
surely never made, for it was pure Irish, and 
indeed I think it was the very threat of pictur- 
esque vengeance which I had myself heard 
Callaghan address to a big boy in the street 
who was on the point of thrashing a little boy. 
One detail of the description was a manifest 
mistake. Callaghan indicated (truly, I have 
some reason to think) the spot in the drive 

1 _i_ _i*._ .. .• -_ j:j 1 *-*sAr ♦o * 



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26 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

thewy with his hand upon a young tree. Now 
Peters had planted that tree with Trethewy 
several days later, just before the frost set in ; 
and other details in the story seemed equally 
incredible. <f Ever since then," concluded Cal- 
laghan, " I have seen murder in that fellow's 
eye. Mind you, I have had to do with murderers 
in India. Three times have I marked that look 
in a man's eye, and each time the event has 
proved me right, though in one case it was long 

after. I tell you this man Trethewy " But 

here Vane-Cartwright stopped him. He had 
already disconcerted Callaghan a little by point- 
ing out the Hibernicisms that adorned the al- 
leged remarks of Trethewy ; and now he quelled 
him with the just, but, as I thought, unseasonably 
expressed, sarcasm, that if he had seen murder 
portended in Trethewy's glance it would have 
been a kind attention to have given his host 
warning of the impending doom. He went on 
to insist warmly on the totally different impres- 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 27 

Sergeant who said, " Really, sir, I do not think 
I ought to listen now to what any gentleman 
thinks of a man's manner of speaking, not if it is 
nothing more than that ". 

The Sergeant then sent for Trethewy. I 
had wondered that we had not seen him before, 
the explanation was that he had been away at 
night, had returned home very late, and so had 
come late to the house in the morning and 
was still doing the pumping when the Sergeant 
sent for him. However, he seemed at last to 
have slept off the effect of whatever his noc- 
turnal potion had been, and he gave a clear 
account of his movements without hesitation 
and with a curiously impressive gravity. He 
had suddenly made up his mind at dusk on the 
previous evening to go to his uncle's house, 
where there was a gathering of friends and 
kinsfolk, which he had at first intended to 
avoid They had made a night of it He 
had started home, as several, whom he named, 
could testify, at four o'clock in the morning 
(the church clock near his uncle's was then 
striking), and the violence of the snowstorm 
was abating. He had come across the moor 
by a track of which he knew the bearings well 



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28 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

This track struck into the grass lane which 
passed near the back of the house at the other 
side of the pasture, and which curved round into 
the road joining it close by Trethewy's cottage. 
As he came along the lane a man on horseback 
leading a second horse had overtaken him and 
exchanged greetings with him. He had seen 
the man before, but could not tell his name or 
dwelling or where he was going. The snow 
had done falling when he reached his cottage. 
Once home, he had turned in and slept sound 
till he was roused soon after eight by his wife 
with the news of the murder. He had seen 
nothing, heard nothing, guessed nothing which 
could throw light on the dreadful deed of the 
night Trethewy was dismissed with a re- 
quest from the Sergeant to keep in his house, 
where he could instantly be found if informa- 
tion was wanted from him. This he did. 

The two servants were now summoned, and 
the Sergeant had a number of questions to ask 
them. The housekeeper in particular had a 
good deal to say about her master's ways, 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 29 

which I, who was by this time becoming ex- 
hausted, had little patience to follow. Was the 
candle which was found burnt out a new candle 
the evening before, or a candle-end, or what? 
The question was asked of the housekeeper, but 
the housemaid answered with promptitude that 
it was a full new candle which she had herself 
put there last evening, shortly before the master 
went to bed. We learnt also that Peters was 
very irregular about going to bed ; sometimes 
he would take a fit of sitting up, working or 
reading, night after night, and sometimes he 
would go to bed early, but always he had a 
book with him and lay awake for a while 
(often for hours and hours, as he had confessed 
to her) reading it after he went to bed. Some- 
times it would be a story book, but more often 
one of those dull books of his ; and much more 
on the same subject would have been forth- 
coming if the housekeeper had not at last been 
stopped, without, as I thought, having told us 
anything of importance. 

At last I went home, to find the church- 
warden irate at my lateness for an appointed 
interview about the accounts of the dole 
charities, and to have a forgotten but much- 



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30 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

needed breakfast pressed upon me. I would 
rather have been alone, but Callaghan gave me 
his company as far as my house, and expounded 
his view about Trethewy all the way. He left 
me at my door to go in search of Thalberg, 
whom up to that moment we had all forgotten. 
In about three-quarters of an hour Callaghan 
burst in on me. Where he had breakfasted, 
if at all, I neglected to ascertain, but he had 
contrived to get shaved at the village barber's, 
and he now looked fresh and seemed keen. 
He was this time in a state of great indigna- 
tion against Thalberg. He had been unable 
to see him, but had ascertained that he was 
still at the hotel, and that he had heard the 
news of Peters' murder, but had seemed little 
interested in it, and had rejected the landlady's 
suggestion that he might like to go up to the 
house to learn the last news of his unhappy 
friend. It appeared that Thalberg had shut 
himself up in his room ever since, but had 
ordered a fly to drive him to the afternoon 
train at the station five miles off. The landlady 
and Callaghan seemed to have agreed that there 
was something peculiarly heartless in his omis- 
sion to call at Peters' or to make any inquiries. 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 31 

Callaghan soon left me, returning, as I thought, 
to Grenvile Combe, while I endeavoured to 
settle myself to prepare my sermon for the next 
day, Sunday, with a mind hardly indeed awake 
as yet to the horror of the morning or to the 
loss I had sustained, much less able in any 
connected way to think over the meaning of 
our observations, but mechanically asking over 
and over again whether it was reasonable that 
my now confirmed aversion from Thalberg was 
somehow associated in my mind with the object 
of our investigations. 

I say "our" investigations; as a matter of 
fact I had no intention whatever at that time 
of busying myself with investigation at all. In 
the first place I was quite aware that I had no 
aptitude for such work, and in the second, and 
far more important place, I, who hold it most 
undesirable that a clergyman should be a magis- 
trate, could not but feel it still less fitting that 
he should be a detective in his own parish. 
But I could not escape altogether. About 
2.45 I received a visit from the Sergeant, a 
much-embarrassed man now, for he brought 
with him the Superintendent, who had driven 
over in hot haste to take charge of the inquiry. 



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32 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

The Sergeant had zealously endeavoured to rise 
to the occasion, and to my unpractised judgment 
seemed to have shown much sense. Perhaps 
his zeal did not endear him the more to the 
keen, and as I guessed, ambitious gentleman 
who now took over the inquiry, but any way 
he had been guilty of real negligence in allow- 
ing the snow round the house to be trampled 
over by trespassers, and at this the Superin- 
tendent, who had rapidly gathered nearly all 
that the Sergeant had to tell, seemed greatly 
exasperated ; moreover, the Superintendent had 
noticed, if the reader has not, that the public- 
house had been open very late the previous 
night. His present errand was to ask me to 
come to the house, not because I was the 
deceased man's legal personal representative, 
but because he foresaw possible explorations 
in which my topographical knowledge of my 
large and scattered parish might be of use. 
We returned to Grenvile Combe, and the 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 33 

denly he opened the door and called up the house- 
maid; she arrived at length, the housekeeper, who 
fetched her, being refused admittance. " Why," 
said the Superintendent pointing to the window, 
" is that window latch unfastened and the other 
fastened ? " The housemaid said shyly but quite 
decidedly that she did hot know, but this she 
did know, that both had been fastened by her 
last night, that one of the few matters in which 
her master showed any fdssiness Was insisting 
that a wirtdow should be latched' whenever it 
was shut, and that he never neglected this him- 
self. Why had the Sergeant not noticed this in 
the morning? Poor Sergeant Speke, already 
crestfallen, had no answer; at least he made 
none. Our stay in the room was short The 
Superintendent, I believe, returned there that 
evening and spent an hour or two in searching 
microscopically for traces of the criminal ; but 
now he was in haste to search the garden. " I 
shall begin," he said, "at the point under that 
window. It is past three already. Come on, 
there is not a minute of daylight to be lost" At 
the point under the unlatched window he made 
a startling discovery, startling in that it had not 

been made before. 

3 



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CHAPTER IV. 

I am now driven to attempt the task, which I 
had hoped to escape, of a topographical descrip- 
tion. To begin with what is of least importance 
for the present The village of Long Wilton 
lies in the valley of a little stream, and two 
roads run Northwards from the village along 
the opposite sides of the valley. The road 
along the Western side leads up a steep hill 
to the church, built at some distance from the 
village for the benefit of the former owners of 
the manor house. Just beyond the church 
lies a house which was the manor house, but 
has now lost its identity in improvements and 
extensions and become a new and not very 
beautiful hotel. This hotel owes its origin 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 35 

not thank the Company for a liberal contribu- 
tion made for the reseating of the church in 
the days of my predecessor. The hotel spoils 
the view from Grenvile Combe, across the 
valley. Its upper windows command a pro- 
spect of the whole of Peters' grounds. This, 
however, does not concern us yet 

The road on the other side of the valley 
leads to some outlying hamlets which form 
part of the parish. On the right hand of it, as 
you go Northwards, the ground rises steeply 
towards a wide tract of moorland. About a 
quarter of a mile out of the village a grass lane 
diverges from the road and leads in a North- 
westerly direction. Grenvile Combe is a litde 
property of some ten acres lying between the 
grass lane and the road, and bordered on the 
North by a fir plantation which extends from 
the road to the lane. The cottage, or lodge, 
which was then Trethew/s, stands close to the 
Southern corner of the grounds, where the 
grass lane turns off; and the gate of the drive 
is close by. The stables, which Peters had not 



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36 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

out upon a steeply rising pasture field which 
lies along the grass lane. The front looks 
(across the drive, a strip of lawn and the road) 
to the stream and to the church and that ugly 
hotel on the little hill beyond Peters' study 
was in the front of the house at the North-East 
corner of the main block of the building, in 
other words, it was on your left as you entered 
at the front door ; and his bedroom was just 
above it A path leads from the drive under 
the North wall of the house to the kitchen 
entrance, and on the left of this path, as one 
goes towards the kitchen, stands an out-building 
in which is the pump. A shrubbery of berberis 
and box and laurel, starting near the house, 
just across the path, skirts round the blind end 
of the drive, and straggling along under the 
low brick wall, which separates the drive and 
front lawn from the fir plantation, ends at a fine 
old yew tree which stands just by the road. 
All along the front of the house there is a 
narrow " half area," intended to give so much 
light and air, as servants were once held to 
deserve, to the now disused dungeons where 
the dinners of former owners had been cooked. 
In that area right below the unlatched window 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW yj 

we saw a ladder lying, a short light ladder, but 
just long enough for an active man to have 
reached the window by it Now the snow had 
come with a North-East wind, and any one who 
may have wrestled with my essay in topography 
will readily understand that just here was a 
narrow tract where very litde snow had fallen 
and the frozen ground was mostly bare. There 
was accordingly no clear indication that the 
ladder had ever actually been reared towards 
the window, but it might have been. The path 
to the kitchen door was clear enough too, and a 
man might have picked his way just thereabouts 
and left not a footprint behind Casting about 
like a hound, the Superintendent had found some 
footprints near, before his companions had begun 
seeking; footprints pointing both ways. He 
immediately returned to the house and got some 
bundles of chips for kindling, with which to 
mark the place of the footprints he discovered. 
Callaghan had joined us, and he and I and the 
Sergeant followed the Superintendent, keeping, 
as he bade us, carefully a little behind him. In 
a moment it was plain that some man had 
climbed the wall out of the fir plantation, not 
far from the yew tree, that he had crept along 



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38 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

the edge of the lawn, planting his feet most of 
the way under the edge of the berberis shrub, 
but now and then, for no obvious cause, but 
perhaps in guilty haste, deviating on to the 
lawn where his tracks now showed in the snow. 
He had made his stealthy way, not quite stealthy 
enough for him, round the end of the drive ; no 
doubt he had found the ladder somewhere up 
that side path, no doubt he had opened the 
latch in the well-known way, entered through 
the window, done the deed, slipped out and left 
his ladder where we found it ; and there were 
his footprints, returning by the way he came to 
the same point in the wall. 

Here we paused for a moment Not a word 
was said as to the inferences that we all drew 
from those few footprints, but the Superintendent 
sharply asked the Sergeant, " Why was that trail 
not found and followed to an end this morn- 
ing?" Poor Sergeant Speke looked for an 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 39 

wall and in the fir plantation. And there we 
paused again, for the fir boughs also had kept 
out the snow, and the carpet of fir needles 
showed no distinct traces of feet. Eventually 
— it seemed a long time but it was a short time 
— we found where the fugitive had emerged 
from the fir plantation over some iron hurdles 
into Peters' field and along a little sort of gulley 
that there ran from the plantation half-way 
along the field- " Not the best place to break 
cover, but their wits are not always about them/' 
said the Superintendent, and he pointed to a 
wedge-shaped snowless tract which, caused by 
some extra shelter from the wind, extended 
from the wall, tapering towards a clump of 
gorse bushes. Then he sped on the trail, mak- 
ing the rest of us spread out to make sure that 
there were no other tracks across the field. 
Southwards, right along the field, the trail led 
till he, and we rejoining him, scrambled out of 
the field, where our quarry must have scrambled, 
into the green lane about two hundred yards 
from Trethewy's cottage. Thus far, but no 
farther; along the now well-trodden snow of 



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4 o TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

of lost daylight," said the Superintendent, now 
depressed. " Was this a likely way for a man 
making for the moors, Rector ? " " You need 
not look that far," said Callaghan ; " those foot- 
prints were the man Trethewy's. Down at the 
cottage yonder," he added for the Superinten- 
dent's benefit " They are the track of hobnailed 
boots, sir," said the Superintendent, " that's all 
that they are." " Do you see that pattern ? " 
said Callaghan ; and there was something odd 
about the pattern of the nails in the last foot- 
print just beneath our eyes. " You never saw it 
in any footprint before, but I did, and it is the 
pattern I saw in Trethewy's footmark not a 
fortnight ago when last there was snow." He 
was strung up again now, and he had strangely 
quick eyes when he was strung up. " That is 
the man's footprint," he said, " and there are the 
man's boots." Some way along the ditch, 
under brambles and among old kettles and 
sardine tins and worn-out boots (for plentiful 
rubbish had been dumped just here), lay quite 
a good pair of boots, old boots truly, but not 
boots that I should have thrown away, whatever 
a poorer man might do. The Superintendent 
had them instantly. " Odd they are so full of 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 41 

snow/ 9 said Callaghan ; "he did not lace them 
or they were much too big for him. But what 
possessed him to throw them away, anyhow ? " 
"Oh," said the Superintendent, "they mostly 
have plenty of half-clever ideas. It takes a 
stupid one to escape me, sir," he interposed to 
me with a sort of chuckle, for he had lost no 
more time in appropriating the discovery than 
he had done in picking up the boots. "The 
clever idea this time," he added, " was just this 
— the lane is trampled enough now, but in the 
morning, when fewer feet had been along it, you 
might have picked out the print of a particular 
boot by careful looking. But a fellow in his 
socks could shuffle along among the few foot- 
marks and make no trace that you could swear 
to ; only he would not go far like that by day- 
light when the people he passed would notice 
his feet Of course it was madness not to hide 
the boots better, but I expect he had taken a 
good deal of liquor to screw himself up to his 
work. Is that Mr. Trethewy's house, sir?" 
for we were by this time close to it 

I had been keen enough, as any man would 
have been, from the moment we saw the ladder 
till now, but I hope it will be easily understood 



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42 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

why I did not accompany the hunters to 
Trethewy's cottage. I went back to the house 
to find Vane-Cartwright, who had stayed there, 
as it seemed, reading gloomily and intently 
all the afternoon, and to arrange for the 
prompt removal of him and Callaghan from 
that now cheerless house to the Rectory. The 
housekeeper, oddly enough, was quite ready 
to stay, and she kept the housemaid with 
her. 

Callaghan, who soon came back, said that 
Trethewy had come to the door of his house 
when they knocked. " Mr. Trethewy," said the 
Superintendent, "do you know these boots?" 
He answered composedly enough, " They look 
like my boots, but I do not know where you 
found them ". Here Mrs. Trethewy came for- 
ward and said in a very unconvincing tone (so 
Callaghan insisted), "Why, that is the pair I 
have looked for high and low these three days. 
Do not you remember, Reuben, how angry you 
were they were lost ? M 

We left the house for the Rectory soon (my 
man was to come with a barrow for the luggage), 
but before we left, one further piece of evidence 
had accidentally come to my knowledge. I 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 43 

learnt from something which the housekeeper 
was saying to the maid that die ladder was one 
which was always kept in the pump-house, that 
the pump-house was always kept locked, and 
that Trethewy kept the key* 



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CHAPTER V. 

On Wednesday, the 2nd of February, Candle- 
mas Day, I read the burial service over my 
friend's body. I will not dwell upon what that 
service was to me, but like many funerals of my 
friends it is associated in my mind with the sing- 
ing of birds. The inquest had taken place on 
the Monday and Tuesday, and while it clearly 
established the fact that the death had been 
caused by murder, not suicide, nothing was laid 
before the jury which would have justified a 
verdict against any particular person. I believe 
that some doubt had arisen as to the identifica- 
tion of the boots. The village shoemaker, whose 
expert opinion was asked, had said that though 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 45 

various handicrafts, had cobbled and nailed some 
boots for a friend, that this friend was the man 
whose hobnails had been noticed by the shoe- 
maker, and that he had been safe out of the way 
at the time of the murder. Moreover — perhaps 
I forgot it, perhaps I assumed that they would 
find it out for themselves and preferred that 
they should— anyhow I had not mentioned to 
the police that I "heard Trethewy alone had had 
access to the ladder (they found it out later). 

Callaghan and Vane-Cartwright stayed with 
me for the funeral. A large crowd of merely 
impertinent people, as I confess I regarded them, 
collected from the neighbourhood and even from 
far away for die occasion. Two only of Peters' 
family were there, or could have been there. 
He had two nephews in the Army, but they were 
then in India. The rest of his near belongings 
were an old gentleman (a cousin of his father's, 
whom I had heard Peters himself describe as 
a relative whom he had only met at burials, 
but whom he regarded as an essential part of 
the funeral ceremony) and a maiden aunt, his 
mother's sister. Both of them came ; both 
insisted on staying at the hotel, instead of at 
the Rectory, for the night before, but they had 



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46 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

luncheon and tea at the Rectory after the funeral, 
and departed by the evening train. The old 
gentleman was, I believe, a retired stipendiary 
magistrate. Vane-Cartwright very obligingly 
devoted himself to entertaining him and took 
him for a walk after luncheon, while Callaghan 
roamed about, observing the people who had 
come for the funeral, expecting, as he told me, 
that there might be something to discover by 
watching them. I was thus left alone for a 
while with Peters' aunt, who, by the way, 
appeared to have known Vane-Cartwright as 
a boy. 

Having with some difficulty overcome her 
formidable reserve and shyness, I learnt from 
her much that I had not known about my friend, 
her nephew, how really remarkable had been 
the promise of his early flays, though he had 
idled a little at Oxford ; and how he had left 
Oxford prematurely and taken up an appoint- 
ment abroad, because he felt that his parents 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 47 

with an affectionate interest This contrasted 
strangely both with her evident indifference on 
her own account to books and such matters as 
delighted him, and with the strange calmness 
with which she seemed to regard his death and 
the manner of his death. I was becoming 
greatly attracted by this quiet, lonely old lady, 
, when the return of the cousin and Vane-Cart- 
wright and of Callaghan at the same time put 
an end to our conversation. Probably it was 
only that she did not feel equal to the company 
of such a number of gentlemen, but I half- 
fancied that some one of the number — I could 
not guess which, but I suspected it was the old 
cousin — was antipathetic to her. 

I went to London myself that night, return- 
ing next afternoon. I had to go and see my 
wife and children. They had gone soon after 
Christmas to stay with my wife's father, and 
she had taken the children for a night to 
London on their way home. She was com- 
pelled to stop there because my daughter, who 
was delicate, caught a bad chill. It was now 
so cold for travelling that I urged her to remain 
in London yet a little longer. 

I am not sure why I am being so precise in 



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48 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

recording our movements at that time. Perhaps 
it is merely from- an impulse to try and live over 
again a period of my 4ife which was one 'of great 
and of increasing; not diminishing, agitation. 
But having begun, I will proceed • 

I returned to my rectory the dajr after the 
funeral hoping to be free from any share in a 
kind of investigation which consorted ill with 
the ordinary tenour of my work. But of course 
I could not remove myself from the atmosphere 
of the crime. * To begin with, I had an important 
interview with Trethewy (which I will relate 
later) the day after my return. But, besides, 
rumours of this clue or that, which had been dis- 
covered, came to me in the common talk of my 
parish, for every supposed step towards the 
discovery of the criminal seemed to be matter of 
general knowledge. So the crime went with 
me in my parish rounds, and in the privacy of 
my house I was still less able to escape from 
it, for Callaghan was with me, and Callaghan s 
mind was on fire with the subject 

I discovered very soon that Callaghan, whom 
I had asked to stay for the funeral, was bent 
upon staying in the village as long as he could. 
He conceived that, with the knowledge he pos- 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 49 

sessed and his experience in India, he might, if 
on the spot, be able to contribute to the ends of 
justice ; and he seemed to find a morbid satisfac- 
tion, most unlike my own feeling, in being near 
to the scene of crime and the scene of detection. 
Moreover, he exhibited an esteem and love for 
Peters and a desolate grief at his loss which, 
though I had not known that the two men were 
quite such friends, I was almost forced to think 
unaffected So I readily invited him to stay at 
the Rectory, and he stayed there some ten days 
altogether, when he declared that he would put 
himself upon me no more and would move to 
the hotel. At the last moment he changed his 
mind, and said he had taken a fancy to stay at 
Peters' house if he might I was persuaded to 
acquiesce in this, and there he stayed, with 
occasional absences in London, till nearly a 
month later, shortly after the time when, as I 
shall' tell, Trethewy was committed for trial at 
the Assizes. 

Vane-Cartwright, who remained quiet and 
reserved, thanked me very much the nicrht 



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50 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

agitation or to stay a night longer in Peters' 
house, would have been a trial for him. He 
added that he purposed returning to London 
immediately after the funeral, and after an im- 
portant City meeting, for which he must stay in 
England, he was going out to meet his young 
lady on the Riviera. I suppose that without 
intending I betrayed before the funeral the fact 
that I was a little worried by my impending 
duties as executor, duties which strangely enough 
I had never had to perform before, and in which 
I was now a little embarrassed by the absence 
from England of my fellow-executor and the 
principal legatees, and by the prospect of having 
to carry out a charitable bequest which left me 
a large discretion and might possibly involve 
litigation. Vane-Cartwright very unobtrusively 
put me in the way of doing whatever was 
immediately incumbent on me. I suppose I 
appeared as grateful as I felt ; anyhow, it ended 
with a delicate suggestion from Vane-Cartwright 
that he would be very glad to stay at the hotel 
for a day or two and make himself useful to me 
in any way that he could. Of course I pressed 
him to stay at the Rectory, and, in spite of an 
apparent preference for staying at the hotel, he 



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TRACKS* IN THE SNOW $i 

after a while agreed. I was expecting that I 
might soon be leaving home for some time, as 
it might be necessary to take my little daughter 
for a month abroad in a warmer climate, and 
after that I knew I should be very busy with 
Confirmation classes and other matters, so that 
I was anxious to make immediate progress, if I 
could, with winding up Peters' estate, and was 
very glad that Vane-Cartwright would stay, as 
he did stay, at the Rectory. On the Saturday 
however (a week after the murder) he received 
a telegram which compelled him to leave that 
afternoon. I had by this time begun to like 
him, which I confess I did not at first ; men of 
his stamp, who have long relied on themselves 
alone and been justified in their reliance, often 
do not show their attractive qualities till the 
emergency occurs in which we find them useful. 
Trethewy was arrested the day that Vane- 
Cartwright left. I wondered why he was not 
arrested earlier (for there did not seem to be 
any real room for doubt that he had made those 
footmarks), but I have never ascertained, and 



A l-_a_ ^1_ 1* 



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$2 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

such an attempt or otherwise. He never did. 
He sat in his cottage, as I gathered, constantly 
reading the Bible, but once or twice a day pacing 
thoughtfully and alone up and down the drive. 
He did the few necessary jobs for the house 
with punctuality, but he never lingered in it, 
never visited the field or the lane, and hardly 
spoke to any one, except on the day before his 
arrest, when, to my astonishment (for he was 
known to be hostile to the Church), he sent for 
me, and we had the memorable interview to 
which I have already referred. 

During the days before his arrest, as well as 
after, all sorts of enquiry, of which I knew little, 
were going on. Thalberg's movements after the 
murder were traced Some attempt was made, 
I believe, to find the man who, according to 
Trethewy, had passed him with two horses in 
the lane. But there seems to have been some 
bungling about this, and the man, about whom 
there was no real mystery (he was a farm ser- 
vant who had started off early to take a horse, 
which his master had sold, to its new owner), 
was not then found. Two important discoveries 
were made about Trethewy. After his arrest 
his cottage was searched, and he was found to 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 53 

be the possessor of inconceivably miscellaneous 
articles. Among them were several weapons 
which he might naturally have picked up on 
his travels, but among them (which was more 
to the point) was a small case of surgical 
instruments. Two instruments were missing 
from that case, and the instrument used by 
the murderer might, though not very neatly, 
have fitted into one of the vacant places. The 
case was found, as Callaghan, who contrived to 
be present, told me, at the back of a shelf in 
a cupboard filled with all sorts of lumber and 
litter that had lain there who can say how 
long. Callaghan, however, professed to have 
observed, from marks on the dust of the shelf, 
that the contents of the cupboard had been 
recendy disturbed, in order, he had no doubt, 
to hide the instrument case at the back of 
everything. 

The other new discovery had occurred two 
days before. Trethewy's uncle and the guests 
who had been at his party on that ill-omened 
night were of course sought and questioned. 



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54 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

and cheerful enough as the evening began, 
but, as the night and the drinking went on, 
fell first into melancholy, then into sullenness, 
lastly and a little before he went home into 
voluble ferocity. He recurred to the topic, 
to which his uncle said he had more than once 
alluded on previous days when he had met 
him, of his quarrel with Peters, against whom 
he had conceived an irrational resentment, and 
he actually, though those who heard him did 
not take him seriously at the time, uttered 
threats against his life. 



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CHAPTER VI. 

I was told of this behaviour of Trethewy's by 
Sergeant Speke the day after the arrest But 
it was no surprise to me, for I had come my- 
self to communicate to the police something 
to the same effect On mature reflexion I 
had thought it my duty to report the matter of 
the interview which I had had with Trethewy 
some days before. Trethewy had, unsolicited, 
made a confession to me — not a confession of 
crime, but a confession of criminal intent 

Unchecked by a warning that I could promise 
no secrecy as to what he should say, and a re- 
minder of, what he knew full well, that he was 
in a position of grave danger, he declared to 
me that he had harboured the thought of killing 
his master, and, though he had never actually 
laid hands on him, was as guilty as though he 
had done so. Starting with this declaration he 
plunged into a long and uninterrupted discourse 

55 



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56 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

of which I should find it impossible, even if I 
wished it, to give an at all adequate report 

As for the matter of his statement : if one 
were to accept it as true, it was the tale, common 
enough two centuries ago, but so rarely told now 
that modern ears find it very hard to take it in, 
the tale of the ordinary struggle between good 
and evil in a man, taking an acute and violent 
form, so that the man feels day by day the 
alternate mastery of a religious exaltation, which 
he believes to be wholly good, and of base 
passions, which, when they come upon him, 
seem to be an evil spirit driving him as the 
steam drives an engine. From the manner of 
the statement, it was very hard to gather how 
much of it was sincere, impossible to gather 
whether or not something worse lay concealed 
behind that which was so strangely confessed. 
Self-abasement and self-righteousness, the genu- 
ine stuff of Puritan enthusiasm, the adulterated 
stuff of morbid religiousness, sheer cant, manly 
straightforwardness, pleasure in the opportunity 
of preaching and that to the parson, — all these 
things seemed blended together in Trethew/s 
talk. 

On the most favourable view the story came 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 57 

to this. A few years before, Trethewy, after a 
careless life, had become suddenly impressed by 
deep religious feelings, no less than by precise 
and inflexible religious views. His conversion, 
he trusted, had not left his conduct unaffected, 
but though for a time he walked, as he said, 
happy in this new light, it had been the begin- 
ning, not the end, of his inward warfare. His 
natural ill-temper, that worst sort of ill-temper 
which is both sulky and passionate, began to 
come upon him again in prolonged fits of intense 
wrath, intensified, I suppose, by reaction from the 
pitch at which he often strove to live. Besides 
this, he gave way at times to a keen pleasure 
in alcohol. He was tempted by what he called 
a " carnal " pride in the strength of his head for 
liquor; and I have sometimes observed that 
drink works its worst havoc upon the very men 
who may appear to be the least affected by it, 
bringing about a slow perversion of the deeper 
motives of action, while for a long time it leaves 
the judgment unclouded upon those more trivial 
and obvious matters in which aberration is 
readily detected Thus at the time of that 
altercation with Peters of which Callaghan had 
been a witness, Trethewy was already brooding 



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58 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

perversely over some trumpery or altogether 
fancied grievance. He was deeply under the 
influence of drink at that moment, and did not 
know it, but knew he had had enough to make 
most men drunk. His very worldly pride had 
therefore been the more offended at the imputa- 
tion which Peters threw on him. His spiritual 
pride was offended too by a rebuke from one, 
whom, though originally fond of him, he had 
come to regard as a worldling, steeped in mere 
profane philosophy. He had been enraged to 
the point of desiring Peters' death, and the threat 
which Callaghan reported had been actually 
uttered. He had meant, it may be, nearly 
nothing by his threat when he uttered it ; but, 
when once this almost insane notion, of killing 
for such a trifle a man whom normally he liked, 
had taken shape in words, it recurred to him 
every time that he was put out, or that a third 
glass of spirits went to his lips. Perhaps it re- 
curred to him with all the more terrible power 
because in better moments his conscience was 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 59 

of some trifling oversight in the garden to which 
Peters had called his attention, and I was sur- 
prised after what Vane-Cartwright had said to 
be told that Vane-Cartwright was present on this 
occasion and had heard the insolent language in 
which he seems to have addressed Peters. All 
day and night after that the evil dream had 
been upon him, and he walked home from his 
uncle's that night plotting murder. He awoke 
in the morning calmer, but his wrath still 
smouldered, till his wife brought him the news 
that Peters was murdered, when it gave place 
in a moment to poignant grief for Peters. He 
could not stir from the cottage ; he sat, he tried 
to pray, he thought, and he saw himself as he 
was — perhaps not quite as he was, for he saw 
himself as a man guilty of blood. 

He would gladly, I think, have talked with me 
of his soul, but, with the suspicion which I had 
in my mind, I did not see how I could say much 
to him. So, having heard him out, I got away 
with some pitifully perfunctory remarks. How 
was I to take this confession ? Was the mental 
history which the man gave of himself a cunning 
invention for accounting for the known quarrel 
and the known threats? Was the story true 



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60 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

with this grave correction that Trethewy had 
carried out his intent ? Was it the simple truth 
all through ? Did it even go beyond the truth 
in this, that the man's thoughts had never been 
so black as he made them out ? For days these 
questions occurred frequently to my mind, but 
my real opinion upon them was fixed almost as 
soon as I got away from Trethewy. Contrary 
to my principles I disliked him, I felt strangely 
little sympathy for his spiritual struggles ; but I 
did not doubt that they were real, and I did not 
doubt that he was innocent of the crime. 

Before Trethewy was brought before the 
magistrates, a letter arrived which excited my 
imagination unaccountably, or rather two letters 
arrived. The day before Vane-Cartwright had 
left, a letter had arrived for Peters, bearing the 
postmark of Bagdad. Vane-Cartwright care- 
lessly opened it He had, I think, at my re- 
quest, on the day when I was away in London, 

r\r\t*ty**A cs\mA 1#»*t**i-e otVii/*1i *vri\Ti*A fr\r T^&t&rG? 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 61 

" Dear Eustace," it ran, "I am sorry I can tell 
you nothing about it — Yours, C. B." Just a 
week later, after Vane-Cartwright had left, came 
another letter from the same place, in the same 
hand, and almost, but not quite, as brief : " Dear 
Eustace, This time I will not delay my answer. 
Longhurst sailed in the Eleanor and she did not 
go dowa To the best of my belief she still 
sails the seas. I never liked C. — Yours ever, 
Charles Bryanston." 



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CHAPTER VII. 

After several remands, the proceedings against 
Trethewy before the magistrates came to a close 
about the end of February. There was nothing 
much to note about these proceedings, which 
ended, as I suppose they must have ended, in 
his being committed for trial. The reader 
knows by this time pretty nearly the whole case 
against him. That Peters had been murdered 
was certain. : The accused had had several 
altercations with the murdered man. In one of 
them he had expressed a wish to kill him, and 
he had repeated this wish to others upon the 
fatal night Footprints had been found which, 
as the reader knows, seemed at first sight plainly 
indicative of his guilt Then there was the 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 63 

only by the uncorroborated statement of the 
accused that he had left the key of the pump- 
house that morning, when summoned to speak 
to the police, and had forgotten to go back for 
it until the next day. Lastly, the finding of the 
instrument case, though not very important, at 
any rate disposed of any improbability that 
Trethewy would have had such an instrument 
as the knife that was used 

I daresay this would have been enough to 
hang a man if this was all ; and against this 
there was nothing to be set, except the immov- 
able persistency of Trethewy and his wife from 
the first in the tale which they told. 

Nothing, that is, till after he had been com- 
mitted for trial. But the very evening after his 
committal, a slight but almost conclusive cir- 
cumstance was brought to light, and entirely 
altered the aspect of the case. That evening I 
received a visit from Peters' housemaid, Edith 
Summers. She had, she said, something on her 
mind. She had told a falsehood to the police- 



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64 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

cause she had been very severely scolded by 
the housekeeper for forgetting to put fresh 
candles in the candlestick ; and so she had said 
what was false, not meaning any harm, but 
thinking for the moment (as she now tried to 
explain) that it was true, and that she had done 
what she had intended. She had confessed to the 
housekeeper since, but the housekeeper had only 
said she was an impudent girl to have put in 
her word then, and had better not put it in again. 
She had gone to the court expecting to be a 
witness on some small point and determined to 
make the matter clear then; but she had not 
been called. She had spoken to a policeman, 
and had been told to speak to one of the lawyers. 
She had tried to get the attention of Trethewy*s 
lawyer, but he had been too busy to listen to 
her. 

I am ashamed to say that listening to her 
rather long explanation, I entirely failed to see 
the significance of what she told me. I said 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 65 

moment There were, she explained, other 
candles in the room, but they were new candles, 
and they were not lighted that night From 
this and what we already knew the conclusion 
was almost inevitable. Peters was murdered 
before two inches of ordinary candle, which was 
burning at 11.30 p.m. on the 28th of January, 
burnt down. 

Stupid as it may seem, I had for some time 
been convinced of Trethewy's innocence, and 
yet had never really drawn the necessary infer- 
ence from it Of course with the two premisses 
in my mind — Peters was murdered, Trethewy 
did not murder him — I had been aware, in a 
sense, of the conclusion, but it had taken no 
hold of my attention. Now, however, I had 
evidence of Trethewy's innocence, which was no 
longer a private intuition of my own, but was 
something of which every one must appreciate 
the force. Perhaps it was from this, perhaps it 
was from the sentimental effect of having the 
time of the crime fixed within such narrow limits ; 
anyhow the thought, "Some one other than 
Trethewy murdered Peters," came upon me 
with a sudden horror which could hardly have 

5 



A 



66 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

been greater if I had only that moment become 
aware of the original fact of the murder. 

I instantly went over in my mind the list of 
those few who were so placed as to lie within 
the reach of suspicion. Trethewy could no 
longer be suspected. Thalberg surely could 
not. I dismissed the two women servants from 
my mind immediately. There remained two 
men — three men — three men, of whom I was 
one. I knew how easily I could clear myself, 
for the door had been locked behind me before 
that candle was lit But I was the last man 
known to have seen Peters, and my confused 
current of thought included me as a man to be 
suspected. I asked myself of each in turn, is 
he the guilty man ? and in each case I answered 
no. As I look back now, it seems to me, that 
the answer " no " did not come to my mind with 
the same whole-hearted conviction in each case. 
But I did not in the few moments for which I 
then reflected, I did not till long after do more 
than go round in this circle : One of us three 
men murdered Peters. Was it each of us 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 67 

ing for Peters' death without the guilt of any of 
us. The plainest reasons bade me answer yes, 
and yet again I answered no. And so back 
round the circle. 

But the girl was with me and I could not 
keep her waiting for ever. I arrested my 
mental circle where it began, at the thought: 
it seems Peters was murdered while two inches 
of ordinary candle, lighted before 11.30 p.m. on 
the 28th of January, burnt out I started up to 
take the girl at once to see the police, but on a 
sudden idea I desisted. I wrote a note to the 
housekeeper, asking that the girl should again 
come to see me at eight in the evening, and I 
sent a message to the police-sergeant, asking 
him to come at the same time. Of course I 
had often interviewed him on parish matters, 
and having got him settled into the arm-chair in 
my study, in which I could usually put him at 
his ease, I fired upon him the question, "Ser- 
geant, were those tracks, which we found, really 
there when you came to Mr. Peters' house in 
the morning?" Now Sergeant Speke was a 
very honest man, but he was (most properly, I 
am sure) a creature of discipline, and his answer 
threw, for me, a flood of light on the problem 



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68 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

how it is that the very best of the police are so 
ready to back up one another. He answered 
immediately and with conviction : " Well, you 
see, sir, it is not for me to judge". The 
answer was on the face of it preposterous. He 
alone had searched the front of the house that 
morning, and it was for him alone, of all men, 
to say whether the tracks were there. He 
obviously did not see this at all, and I was 
wise enough to let go an opportunity for moral- 
ising to him. I beguiled him, with a glass of 
wine and other devices of the tempter, into 
feeling himself off duty for the while, and talking 
with me as fellow-mortal to fellow-mortal. I 
very soon discovered, first, that Sergeant Speke 
had searched carefully enough around the house 
that morning to have seen the tracks if they 
had been there, and, secondly, that the man, 
Speke, as distinct from the Sergeant, knew 
perfectly well that they were not there. 

Not till then did I summon the girl Edith- 
from the servants' hall where she was waiting. 
I made her tell her tale. I saw the Sergeant take 
a due note of it for transmission to those, to me 
mysterious, headquarters where I supposed all 
such matters were digested. I got the assur- 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 69 

ance that Sergeant Speke was really man 
enough to see that his own evidence, as to the 
non-existence of the tracks that morning, would 
be noted and digested too. I dismissed the 
Sergeant and Edith, and went slowly to bed. 
Did I suspect this person? No! Did I sus- 
pect that person ? N — no. At last I determined 
that I would not let my suspicions fasten on 
any one man, while it might be just as reason- 
able that his suspicions should fasten on me. 
But my mind remained full of horror and of the 
image of a candle-end spluttering out, while the 
mftn, who had lighted it to read by, lay dead in 
those bloody sheets. Very, very glad I was 
that my wife was at last coming home next day. 
I suppose it was from the association of two 
female names that my dreams, when at last I 
slept, were of nothing more horrible than the 
ship Eleanor, which, as the reader remembers, 
probably still sailed the seas. 



■** 



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CHAPTER VIII. 

With some doubt as to whether it was what I 
ought to do, but with no doubt that it was what 
I wanted to do, I sought out Callaghan next 
morning for a final talk with him before he left ; 
for he was at last to tear himself away from the 
scene which he haunted. I tried on him, I do 
not know why, the effects of Edith's disclosure 
without telling him what I now knew about the 
tracks. I could see that he accepted the truth 
of the girl's statement, and had grasped, much 
more quickly than I had, what it imported. It 
was therefore wearisome to me, and, in my then 
state of mind, most jarring, that for some time 
he persisted in playing with the idea that 
Trethewy might still be guilty. He supported 
it, as he went on, with more and more far- 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 71 

this time seriously, to several things which he 
told me about Thalberg, which were new to 
me and threw an unpleasant light upon him. 
Then I interposed. Thalberg had left the 
house with me, and it had been made all but 
certain that he went straight to his hotel and 
never left it until many hours after the murder 
had been discovered. In any case it was not 
he who had made those tracks, for he had cer- 
tainly kept in his hotel from early morning on 
the 29th till he left And I then told Callaghan 
my reason for believing that those tracks were 
made in the middle of the day on the 29th. 
" My dear friend," he exclaimed, this time with 
all the appearance of earnestness, "I no more 
really believe than you do that Thalberg actu- 
ally did the deed. He is not man enough. 
But I have a method, I have a method I am 
used to these things. I am off to Town now ; 

I shall be there some time ; you know my 
address. I mean," he added grandiloquently, 

II to work through all the outside circumstances 
and possibilities of the case, and narrow down 



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72 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

his madness, for there was certainly some mad- 
ness in his method. I took leave of him (after 
he had called, that afternoon, to renew acquaint- 
ance with my wife) little foreseeing what his 
two next steps would be. He stopped on his 
way to London at the county town, where he 
went to the county police office to communi- 
cate some information or theory about Thalberg. 
He went on to London, as he had said he 
would, but, instead of remaining there as he 
had said, he suddenly departed next day for the 
Continent, leaving no address behind. 

We have now arrived at the first week in 
March, the several events (if I may include 
under the name of events the slow emergence 
of certain thoughts in my own mind) which 
prepared the way for the eventual solution of 
our mystery, occurred at intervals, and in an 
order of which my memory is not quite distinct, 
during that and the remaining nine months of 
the year. 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 73 

on the first evening after her arrival. I was 
aware that she would not be able to share with 
me in the determination not to harbour sus- 
picions of any particular person, but I had 
thought she would be averse to my taking 
positive steps towards the detection of the 
crime. She, however, was indignant at the 
idea that I could let things be. " Several inno- 
cent men will be under a cloud all their lives," 
she said, "unless the guilty man is found. 
There is Trethewy, I suppose they will let him 
out some day; but who is going to employ 
him ? Not that uncle of his ; and we cannot. 
Who do you suppose is going to see this through 
if you do not ? " She was powerfully seconded 
in this by a neighbour of ours, now an old man, 
who had had much experience as a justice. 
" Mr. Driver," he said, " you may think this is 
the business of the police, but remember who 
the police arel They do their ordinary work 
excellently, but their ordinary work is to deal 
with ordinary crime. This was not an ordinary 
crime, and it was done by no ordinary man. If 
it is ever discovered, it will be by a man whose 
education gives him a wider horizon than that 
of professional dealers with criminals." 



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74 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

I do not know how far the reader may have 
been inclined to suspect Callaghan (that de- 
pends, I suppose, on whether the reader has 
been able to form any idea of his character, 
and I myself had not, so far, formed any coherent 
idea of his character ; there seemed little coher- 
ence in it), but the police certainly had begun 
to suspect him. 

On a superficial view of the matter there was 
every reason to do so. Short of bolting on the 
night of the murder, before it was discovered, 
he had done all that, theoretically, a guilty man 
should have done. He had lost no time what- 
ever in attempting to put suspicion on one in- 
nocent man. He had striven to intermeddle 
officiously in the investigations conducted by the 
police. There was more than one apparent lie 
in the information he had given. He had 
haunted the scene of the crime as though it 
fascinated him. When the first innocent man 
was cleared, he had at once suggested another 
man, who was almost certainly innocent also, 
and he had then, after giving false accounts of 
his intentions, quitted the country without leav- 
ing his address. Then he was certainly in the 
house when the crime was committed. His 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 75 

movements on the following day were nearly 
accounted for, but not so fully that he could not 
have made those false tracks. After all it was 
a circumstance of deep suspicion that he had 
been so quick to recognise the peculiar print 
of Trethewy's boot. 

Alas, even to the test cut bono, "that stock 
question of Cassius, 'whom did it profit?'" 
Callaghan responded ill. I knew, and some- 
what later in reply to an enquiry by the police, 
it was my duty to say, that Callaghan was in a 
certain sense a gainer by Peters' death. He 
had been a most imprudent investor (not, I 
believe, a speculator), and had in his embarrass- 
ment borrowed ,£2,000 from Peters. Peters, 
while living, would not have been at all hard on 
him if he had been honestly unable to pay, but 
was just the man to have made Callaghan's life 
a burden to him if he thought he was not doing 
his best to keep above water. Peters' will can- 
celled the debt, and it was not impossible that 
Callaghan knew it But this last point illustrates 
the real weakness of the argument against him. 
Nobody could know Callaghan a little and think 
that either this interest in the will or any other 
point in this hypothetical story of his crime, how- 



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76 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

ever much it might be like human nature, was 
in the least like him. 

Here, for want of a good description of him, 
are a few traits of his sojourn in my parish. He 
was, it is true, with difficulty dragged out of a 
furious brawl with a gentleman from the North 
of Ireland who, he said, had blasphemed against 
the Pope. The man had not so blasphemed, 
and Callaghan himself was not a Roman Catholic. 
On the other hand, he had habitually since his 
arrival lain in wait for the school children to 
give them goodies and so forth. He assaulted 
and thrashed two most formidable ruffians who 
were maltreating a horse, and then plastered 
their really horrible bruises with so much blarney 
that they forgave, not merely him, but the horse. 
He had brought for Peters, with infinite pride, 
a contraband cargo of his native potheen, a 
terrible fluid ; and after Peters' death he would 
sit up alone in that desolate house, drinking, not 
the potheen, which, in intended charity, he sug- 
gested that I should bestow on the poor in the 
workhouse, but Mrs. Travers' barley water, and 
writing a rather good and entirely bright and 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 77 

me sure of Callaghan's innocence. Looking at 
what I suppose was evidence, I had wondered 
whether I was not soft in this, and I brought 
the matter to the test of my wife's judgment 
I knew that, at least at her earlier meetings 
with Callaghan, she had disliked him, and, out of 
the facts which she knew already, I made what 
I flattered myself was a very telling case against 
him. It did not disconcert me that the lady, 
who, when told of his flight, had trusted he 
would remain out of England till she went 
abroad, said without much interest, "What 
stuff," and then suddenly kindling, exclaimed, 
"What, Robert, are you turning against that 
poor man?" When I asked for the reasons 
why she scouted the idea of his guilty she seemed 
to consider the request quite frivolous ; but at 
last I extracted from her a sentence which ex- 
pressed what I think was at the root of my own 
thought. " Mr. Callaghan," she said, " is violent 
enough to commit a murder and cunning enough 
to conceal anything, but I cannot imagine his 
violence and his cunning ever working together." 
Of course we both thought of him as sane, 
though he was just one of those people to whose 
doings one constantly applies the epithet " mad ". 



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CHAPTER IX. 

The enquiry upon which I had now stirred 
myself to enter, could not be an easy one, but 
it should have seemed for the present to be 
narrowed down to a question about a single man. 
Perhaps it was from repugnance against con- 
sciously going about to hang a man who had 
sheltered under my roof, that I did not even 
then definitely put to myself the question of that 
man's guilt By some half-conscious sequence 
of thought I was led to begin my search far afield. 
It started with the two letters which had come 
for Peters from Mr. Charles Bryanston, or rather 
first with the later letter. 

I had some time before written briefly and 
formally to Mr. Bryanston to acquaint him with 
the fact of Peters' murder, but had, for a while 
since, thought no more of him. Now I began 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 79 

sat, with those letters in my hand, alone before 
the fire. I sat at my writing-table with paper 
before me, and made incoherent jottings with a 
pencil. I should be afraid to say how often 
and how long I did all these seemingly idle 
things. Till at last, in the time between tea 
and dinner, with the children playing in the 
room, I arrived at actually spelling the matter 
out 

"This time I will not delay my answer." 

44 This time " Then at other times he 

did delay his answer. That might have some 
significance when I turned to the earlier letter. 
44 This time I will not delay my answer." It 
was an answer to a question in a letter just 
received from Peters, an answer probably by 
return of post. Why not delay it this time as 
usual? Why, of course, because the question 
was one which both to Peters and to Bryan- 
ston seemed important, perhaps momentous. 
Simple enough so far. 44 Longhurst did sail 



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80 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

nothing momentous in that Stop, though. It 
is not necessarily that Some one need not 
have thought it — he may have said it to Peters, 
and Peters may have thought it was a lie. And 
what did it matter, and why did some one say 
it? Well, of course, Longhurst would be dead 
if the ship had gone down ; and Longhurst was 
not really dead, and some one was interested 
in saying that he was. Perhaps Longhurst 
was the next heir to some property, and search 
ought to have been made for him; and my 
mind wandered over all the stories I had ever 
read of lost heirs, in fact or in fiction. Or 

perhaps Who said Longhurst and his 

ship went down? "C." said it, whoever "C." 
might be. 

Then I took up the earlier letter. I knew 
from the other letter that this had been sent 
late. There was nothing further to be gained 
from the words of it, but a flood of suspicion 
broke upon me as I held it in my hand. Had 
"C." another initial to his surname, a double 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 81 

read it before it was given to me? Had I 
not rather wondered at the pains he had kindly 
taken to help me with several letters before? 
Did he not laugh rather strangely as he read 
it, though I never heard him laugh at any- 
thing amusing? Did he not go away just after 
the letter came, though he had not been intend- 
ing to go so soon? Was it conceivable that 
he knew that Peters had asked that question, 
and thought the first letter ("very uninform- 
ing," as he called it) was the answer to that 
question, and an answer which made him safe ? 
After that one laugh I thought he became 
suddenly downcast Had he really read in 
that letter that he need not have feared 
Peters, and that he had — yes, murdered him 
for nothing? Had the accident that Peters 
had written, perhaps long before, some unim- 
portant question to Bryanston, and the acci- 
dent that Bryanston had delayed his answer 
betrayed this man into leaving me alone with 
my letters a week too soon; and would this 
trifling mistake lead him to— to the gallows? 



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82 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

should beware of going back upon your first 
instinctive impressions of liking or dislike when 
you happen to have them. There are qualifi- 
cations to it ; the repulsions that start from 
ugliness or strangeness or difference of opinion 
may not be safe guides. But broadly the maxim 
is true. It was true in this instance. No, I 
too had never liked " C." 

It is strange that I should have received Mr. 
Bryanston's answer the very next morning, a 
long, full, warm-hearted letter on the death of 
the friend to whose letters in life — and what 
letters Peters wrote! — he made such scrappy 
replies. In a P.S. at the end, as if the writer 
had hesitated whether to write it, were the 
words : " It is curious and may be news to you 
that Mr. Peters, at the time he was murdered, 
was unravelling the mystery of another murder, 
committed, as he suspected, many years ago ". 

So then, as I had half-guessed, Longhurst 
was dead. It was not that he was alive and 
Cartwright pretended he was dead, he was 
dead, and Cartwright had a motive for falsely 
pretending he was drowned. 



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CHAPTER X. 

"Tout comprendre, c'est tout pardonner," is, 
I do not doubt, a saying which has its truth. 
Nevertheless, I have generally noticed, when I 
have read much about murders or other great 
crimes, or about the social or political misdeeds 
which are not called crimes, that every piece 
of additional knowledge about the manner in 
which the thing was done, the inducements that 
led to it, the conduct that followed it, has, for 
me at least, set the capital act of wrong in 
a more hideous light It is not, I think, that 
the picturesque circumstances, like the gutter- 
ing candle whose image got on my nerves that 
night, affect me profoundly. It is, I believe, 
that, while many men, most if you like, are 
middling, the distinctly bad are really much 
worse and the distinctly good are really much 
better than the world of middling people is at 



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84 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

conceived them, a great hatred of Vane-Cart- 
wright possessed my soul. There was a passage 
in my subsequent course with regard to him, 
when a reason personal to myself had just been 
added to the cause of my hate, upon which I 
look back sometimes with self-disgust, but I can- 
not think that the desire, which first prompted 
me to fasten myself upon Vane-Cartwright and 
try to drag him down, was an impure desire, or 
that it consorted ill with the inner meaning of 
those precepts which it was my profession to 
teach. 

Whether it was right or wrong, the strength 
of the feeling which then animated me showed 
itself in my resolve to think calmly and to act 
circumspectly. I was conscious that the struc- 
ture of my theory was held together by no 
firm rivets of verifiable fact, but by something 
which must be called feeling. I did not distrust 
my theory on that account ; but I did distrust 
myself, and I determined, in what lay before 
me, to take as few impulsive steps and to draw 
as few impulsive conclusions as I could. 

Reflecting, next morning, on what could be 
done immediately to bring my hypothesis to 
the test of fact, I looked in the Postal Guide 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 85 

for such information as it gave about the mails 
to and from Bagdad. I also verified my im- 
pression as to the date of that occasion when 
Vane-Cartwright, staying at the hotel, had spent 
the evening with Peters. From what I found 
it seemed to me that a letter to Bagdad, posted 
that night, might have been expected to bring 
an answer back by the date on which the first 
letter from Bryanston came to my hands, or 
even a few days earlier, but that the delays of 
steamers might easily bring it about that an 
answer should not arrive till a week later, that 
is, when the second letter from Bryanston came 
to me. So far then there was nothing to make 
my conclusion impossible. I may add here that 
the enquiries which I made, as soon as I saw 
how to do it, confirmed what I gathered from 
the Postal Guide, and showed that on this oc- 
casion such a delay of the mails had actually 
happened. 

But, assuming this about the mails, what a 
frail edifice my theory still remained! Upon 
most careful reconsideration, I saw, as the reader 
may see, that it fitted in easily with all the known 



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86 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

science or history. But as for expecting the 
law to hang Vane-Cartwright upon this, I my- 
self, fantastically no doubt, refrained a little later 
from black-balling him at a distinguished club, 
of which, oddly enough, I had in my ambitious 
youth become a member. In large part the 
case, so to call it, against him rested on my 
observations of his demeanour in my house, and 
especially of his conduct in regard to my business 
as executor and my letters. This was precise 
and cogent enough for me, the observerat first 
hand ; but it was too much matter of general 
impression to be of use to any one but me. Then 
the attribution of that early murder to Vane- 
Cartwright seemed to me absolutely requisite 
to make his murder of Peters conceivable. But 
it was the work of my imagination. In the 
region of palpable facts, one thing alone was 
evidence against Vane-Cartwright and not 
against any other man. It will be remembered 
that, when Callaghan first denounced Trethewy, 
Vane-Cartwright said that Trethewy's behaviour 
in his presence to Peters had been friendly and 
respectful. He knew, I now told myself, a better 
way than expressing suspicion of Trethewy, and 
while by his stealthy act he fabricated evidence 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 87 

against him, he contrived by his words to cast 
on Callaghan alone the risk of thereafter ap- 
pearing as an innocent man's traducer. But 
his cunning had made a slip. It was gratuitous 
in doing so to have uttered a refutable lie as to 
Trethewy's conduct in his presence. He was 
not the man to have seen the imprudence of 
this. It would have been to him inconceivable 
that Trethewy should confess the full extent of 
his wrong conduct to me. And so, not from 
any want of coolness, he had provided me with 
the one scrap of ordinary evidence necessary to 
give firmness to that belief of mine which might 
otherwise have seemed a mere bubble. 



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CHAPTER XL 

By the time that my wife, who had been again 

obliged to be in London while I was spelling 

out this story, had returned, I had long come 

to the conclusion that my theory had enough 

in it to be worth submitting to her criticism. 

But she forestalled me with news of her own, 

and news which concerned Vane-Cartwright 

The young lady, Miss Denison, whom he was 

to have married had suddenly broken off the 

engagement within two days of his joining 

her upon the Riviera. The girl could give 

no good reason for her conduct, and her own 

people loudly condemned it; they had been 

against the engagement, for the difference of 

age was too great ; they were still more against 
+u«* a:~u+«. u«^~~u ~r :+ . u„+ ~u« ~.~~ ^uj *.~ 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 89 

unhappy young lady had given my wife her 
confidence. Far from having any suspicion 
about the murder, she had never even heard, 
when she made her decision, that there had 
been a murder at all ; for she and her mother 
did not read news of that order, and Vane- 
Cartwright, though he had said that he had 
been through a dreadful experience, of which 
he was anxious to tell her, had not yet said 
what it was. There had evidently been a 
quite unaccountable quarrel in which the high- 
tempered girl had, in all things external, begun, 
continued and ended in the wrong ; and she did 
not now defend herself. Somehow, she said, 
he was changed. No, not in his manner to her ; 
she had not doubted his attachment to her. 
Only she had thought she had loved him before, 
and she knew now that she did not Something, 
which she had seen in him before but not dis- 
liked, now jarred upon her feelings in a new 
way. She had been very, very foolish, very, 
very wrong; she could explain nothing; she 
was very unhappy, very angry with herself; but 
this she knew, and this alone she knew, that it 
would be wrong for her to become William Vane- 
Cartwright's wife 



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90 TRACKS IN T«E SNOW 

So much my wife told me. Then, with that 
precipitancy in travelling to remote conclusions 
which sometimes seems so perilous in able 
women, she said, as quietly as if it were the 
most obvious comment, " Robert, it was Vane- 
Cartwright that did the murder". Now she 
had never even spoken to him. 

Accordingly, she received my theory of the 
murder almost with enthusiasm. None the less, 
she immediately put her finger upon the weakest 
part of it "I wonder, all the same," she ex- 
claimed, "why he murdered Eustace?" "Why," 
I said, " he saw in a moment that Eustace knew 
he was lying and suspected him of the murder." 
" That would not have been enough," she said ; 
"he must be a very cool-headed man from the 
way he behaved after the murder, and he would 
never have run the risk he ran by a second 
murder, if there had not been much more than 
suspicion of the first." "Then," I suggested, 

" rfc^rhanc T?iicta/v* o\r****A\r \rr\Sk\sT it orirl «-Via 1«a 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 91 

did not murder Eustace." Then she turned on 
me with a woman's promptitude and a woman's 
injustice: "You can always argue me down/' 
she said, "but he did murder Eustace Peters, 
and you have got to find out all about it and 
bring him to justice. I am sure you have the 
ability to do it You may have to wait, but, if 
you wait patiently and keep your eyes open, all 
sorts of things will turn up to help you. I shall 
be very angry with you," she added, in a tone 
not at all suggestive of anger, " if you do not 
do it" 

I felt, like my wife, that it was a matter of 
waiting for what would turn up. In the neigh- 
bourhood of the murder there was probably very 
little to turn up. The police, I felt no doubt, had 
made all manner of enquiries ; and as for any- 
thing that I was likely to pick up, I supposed 
I had already heard all, and more than all that 
any person in the neighbourhood knew about 
the matter. I may anticipate a little and say 
that in the whole of the four months, which, as 



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92 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

and long ago, might be easier to trace than the 
recent, but perhaps more carefully veiled, crime 
committed to cover it Peters, I reasoned, must 
have been in possession of proofs of it, and 
probably, as I searched his voluminous papers, 
something would appear to indicate the nature 
of those proofs. I began, as in any case I 
should have done, a careful reading of his 
papers. It took up no small part of my spare 
time, for I found that he had prepared little 
enough for immediate publication, but fuller 
and more valuable materials for his projected 
book of psychology than I should at all have 
expected from his manner of proceeding. But, 
of what now interested me more than my friend's 
philosophy, I found nothing in all this mass of 
letters and notes and journals; nothing, that 
is, which threw direct light on this mystery, for 
indeed his psychological notes and my discus- 
sions with a friend of his, an Oxford philosophy 
tutor, to whom I eventually committed them, 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 93 

soon to the notice of the suspected man, and 
the great ability with which I credited him 
might suggest some effective scheme for baffling 
my search. But of course I wrote early to Mr. 
Bryanston to ask if he would tell me to whom 
he alluded as " C," whether Longhurst was the 
man whom Peters suspected had been murdered, 
and whether I inferred rightly that " C." was 
involved in this suspicion. 

It was my duty to put all that I knew at the 
disposal of the police, and the opportunity for 
doing so soon presented itself in the visit, which, 
as I have said, was paid to me to enquire about 
Callaghan. My visitor was an important official, 
since dead, whom I need not more clearly indi- 
cate. He had been a military man, and he 
struck me as, in some ways, admirably qualified 
for his post. He was, I believe, excellent in 
the discipline he maintained among his subor- 
dinates and in all the dispositions he made for 
meeting the common public requirements. I 
am told also that he had wonderful familiarity 
with the ways of ordinary law-breakers, but he 
did not appear to me to have much elasticity 
of mind. After answering fully his question 
about Callaghan, I thought it right to give my 



\ 



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94 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

own impression of his innocence. My visitor 
answered me with a somewhat mysterious refer- 
ence to those who really guided the conduct of 
the affair. He could not himself, he said, go 
behind their views. Then with an evident 
sympathy for my concern about Callaghan, he 
told me in confidence and still more mysteri- 
ously that the opinion of an eminent specialist 
had been taken. 

I then ventured to press the question of 
Trethew/s release, and learnt that it was being 
.carefully considered, but he could not be set free 
immediately. Then I told my visitor of the 
statement of Vane-Cartwright when Callaghan 
first spoke of Trethewy, and how Trethewy's 
confession proved this to have been a deliberate 
falsehood. I showed him and gave him copies 
of the letters of Bryanston to Peters and to me. 
I informed him, and at my request he noted, that 
Vane-Cartwright had opened the first letter. 
I stated what I had myself observed of Vane- 
Cartwright's conduct, and indicated frankly the 
conclusion which I was disposed to draw. It 
did not seem to me that I produced any impres- 
sion. My visitor listened, if I may say so, with 
the air of a man who completely takes in the 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 95 

fact and sees that it should be put in some 
pigeon-hole, but is without either apprehension 
or wonder as to its real bearing. I gathered, 
on the whole, that the official mind was chiefly 
taken up with the theory that Callaghan was 
guilty; but that there was also thought to be 
an off-chance that something might yet turn up 
to repair the seemingly shattered case against 
Trethewy. I gathered too, and, I hope, gave 
due weight to the fact, that there was some likely 
way, of which I had before heard nothing, by 
which an unkndltn person might have entered 
and escaped from the house that night One 
thing more I learnt ; nothing suspicious had been 
discovered about Thalbergs movements, but it 
appeared, and this seemed to be considered as in 
his favour, that he had a great deal to do with 
Vane-Cartwright 

After my visitor had taken courteous leave of 
me, it dawned upon me what was meant by his 
dark sayings about Callaghan. I had wondered 
how the opinions of an eminent specialist in 
police matters could be so cogent in a case about 



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96 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

toms of insanity. The police then were not 
being guided by those superficial and so to 
speak conventional notes of guilt, of which I had 
thought, to the exclusion to all those sides of 
character which I had noted. On the contrary 
they had a view of their own on which these 
two conflicting sets of phenomena might be re- 
conciled, a view which explained why Callaghan 
was to me so inexplicable. The man was not 
sane. 

I could not conceal from myself that there 
was at least something plausible in this view. 
There is a sort of marked eccentricity and, as it 
were, irresponsibility of conduct of which I had 
always thought as something not merely differ- 
ent from incipient madness but very far removed 
from it Yet I had once before been terribly 
mistaken in thinking thus about a friend, and 
I might, I reflected, be mistaken now. The 
natural effect upon me was, or should have 
been, a keener sense of the unsubstantial nature 



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CHAPTER XII. 

In the course of the summer my wife and I paid 
our annua] visit together to London, and I had 
a few days in Oxford before the end of the 
summer term, 

I heard a good deal about Vane-Cartwright 
in London, for he had become a man of some 
mark in society, and moved in a little set, which 
was known among its members by a rather 
precious name, now forgotten though celebrated 
in the gossip of that time, and which included 
a statesman or two of either party and several 
men of eminence in letters, law or learning. 
By a strange coincidence of the sort which is 
always happening, I met at an evening party 
a friend who mentioned Longhurst, and I had 
just heard from him something of no moment 
about this man whose fate so deeply exercised 
me. when I saw Vane-Cartwrierht himself stand- 



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98 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

as I supposed. I have hitherto forborne to 
describe his appearance, because such descrip- 
tions in books seldom convey a picture to me. 
But I must say that seen now in a room where 
there were several distinguished people, he made 
no less impression on me than before. He was, 
I should say, five foot eleven in height, thin and 
with a slight stoop, but with the wiry look 
which sometimes belongs to men who were 
unathletic and perhaps delicate when young, 
but whose physical strength has developed in 
after years. Hair which had turned rather 
grey, while the soft texture and uniformly dark 
hue of his skin still retained a certain beauty of 
youth, probably accounted for a good deal of 
his distinction of appearance, for he was not 
handsome, though his forehead, if narrow, was 
high, and his eyes which were small were strik- 
ing—of a dark greenish-grey colour, I think. 
The expression of the mouth and of the clear- 
cut and firm-set jaw was a good deal hidden by 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 99 

he smiled and showed his white teeth, his eye- 
lashes almost completely veiled his eyes. To 
me, naturally, it gave him a hateful expression, 
yet I could see a certain fascination about it 
Then he moved farther off— very quietly, but I 
could see as he made his way through the crowd 
that in reality every motion was extraordinarily 
quick. 

Some ten minutes after, I was about to go, 
when he suddenly came from behind and ad- 
dressed me, asking me to choose a day for 
dinner or luncheon at his club. I declined, and 
freed myself as courteously and as quickly as I 
could, and thought, for the moment, that there 
had been nothing marked in the way in which, 
obeying irresistible impulse, I had shaken off 
the man whom I suspected on such slight 
grounds but so rootedly. 

A few days afterwards a great robbery was 
attempted at Vane-Cartwright's house. The 
robbers were after a well-chosen and valuable 
collection of gold ornaments of early periods or 
from strange countries, which he had begim to 



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ioo TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

ill-guarded treasures. But the robbers them- 
selves got away. The matter was much talked 
of, and conflicting tales were told about it, but it 
seems that Vane-Cartwright, hearing some un- 
usual noise, had come downstairs and surprised 
the two men who had entered the house before 
they had succeeded in removing any of their 
spoil. As he came down he had rung up the 
police by the District Messenger Company's 
apparatus which was in the house. Coming 
quietly upon them, and standing in the dark 
while they were in full light, he had first ordered 
them to hold up their hands, and had then made 
each of them singly turn out his pockets and 
restore the smaller stolen articles which they 
had already secreted in them. He then, it was 
said, kept them standing there to await the 
police. But, by some ruse, they distracted his 
attention for a moment, and then, suddenly 
putting out their light, made a rush past him 
and escaped. Such at any rate appears to have 
been the information which he gave to the police 
who arrived soon after. The police actually 
arrested two men, already known to them as 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 101 

slinking away separately, and they were at first 
confident that they had secured the authors of 
the attempted robbery. But Vane-Cartwright 
not only could not identify the arrested men as 
the two housebreakers, whom he had of course 
seen well ; he insisted firmly that they were not 
the men whom he had seen ; nor were the right 
men ever caught The matter caused some 
surprise, and the police were freely blamed for 
their bungling. I have my own reason for 
doubting whether they were justly blamed 

It is a mere fancy on my part that this inci- 
dent and my meeting with Vane-Cartwright a 
few days before may have had a connexion 
with each other and with certain subsequent 
events in this history. I fear that my experi- 
ence in that year and the next has made me 
ready to see fanciful connexions ; and the 
reader, when he knows of those subsequent 
events, will see what I suspect took place upon 
the discovery of the theft, but will very likely 
think my suspicion extravagant However that 
may be, Vane-Cartwright's plucky adventure 
and the celebrity which it helped to give to his 
artistic collections, caused me to hear all the 
more of him during my stay in London. 



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102 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

Curiously, however, it was at Oxford, where 
he had not distinguished himself, that the fame 
of Vane-Cartwright was most dinned into my 
ears. The University is apt to be much inter- 
ested in the comparatively few of her sons whose 
road to distinction is through commerce ; and, 
moreover, he had lately given to the University 
Museum a valuable collection of East Indian 
weapons, fabrics, musical instruments and what 
not, which he had got together with much 
judgment Thus it happened that I heard 
there one or two things about him which 
were of interest to me. A friend of mine, an 
old tutor, the Bursar of the college at which 
Vane-Cartwright had been, described him as 
he was in his undergraduate days. He had, 
in his opinion, been badly brought up, had 
never gone to school, but been trained at 
home by parents who were good people with 
peculiar views, highly scientific and possibly 
highly moral views. He had not fallen into 
either of the two common classes of under- 
graduates which my old friend understood 
and approved — the sportsmanlike and boyishly 
fashionable class, or the studious class who 
studied on the ordinary lines ; still less into the 



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smaller, but still not small, class which com- 
bines the merits of the two. He had attain- 
ments of his own, which the old tutor did not 
value sufficiently, for he was proficient in 
several modern languages and modern litera- 
tures; moreover, the necessary mathematics, 
Greek and Latin grammar, formal logic, etc., 
which he had to get up, gave him not the 
slightest trouble. Altogether he had plenty of 
cleverness of his own sort, but it was a sort 
which the Bursar thought unwholesome. He 
was quite well conducted, and ought to have 
been a gendeman, coming of the family of 
which he came, but somehow he was not quite 
a gentleman. Thus it was a great surprise to 
the possibly conventional instructor of his youth 
that he had done so well in the world. 

Then I heard of him from another man, 
jusdy esteemed in financial circles, who was on 
a visit to his son at Oxford, and whom I met in 
a common-room after dinner. Somebody had 
hazarded the remark that Vane-Cartwright 
must have been either a very hard worker or a 
very lucky speculator. " No," said this gentle- 
man, who was a colleague of his on the Board 
of one of the only two companies of which he 



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164 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

was a director, " I should not say that a man 
like that worked hard as you would understand 
work at Oxford, or at least as a few of you would. 
His hard work was done when he was young. 
Most of his business is what one of his clerks 
could run, and probably does run, for many 
weeks together, on lines which he has planned 
very carefully and revises whenever occasion 
requires. Nor is he what most people would 
call a speculator. I fancy he very seldom takes 
any uncommon sort of risk, but he always does it 
at the right moment He has succeeded because 
he is very quick in making his calculations and 
very bold in taking action on them. He does 
not seem to be constantly watching things, but 
when a special emergency or a special oppor- 
tunity occurs he seems to grasp it instantly, and 
I believe he troubles himself very little, too 
little perhaps, about any affair of his when it is 
once well in train." 

Lastly, I heard a story, the narrator of 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 105 

generosity with which he had set up these people 
in life though they had very little claim on him. 
Here at least was something which took its 
place in the story which I was weaving; the 
rest of what I had heard was little to the pur- 
pose, though it served to give life and colour to 
my idea of the man's character. 

Now, however, I was really to discover some- 
thing definite. When we returned to our home 
at Long Wilton, only a little before we finally 
left it, I completed 'my examination of Peters' 
papers. His various diaries and notebooks, 
notes of travel and notes of study, jottings and 
completed passages for his psychological book, 
I found to be of fascinating interest, and I 
lingered over them long, but there was not 
a hint among them all of Longhurst, the 
Eleanor or any kindred topic. One of the 
journals, I noticed, had had some leaves cut out. 
The last place of my search was a small wooden 
trunk which I had brought home from his 
house (now sold). On the top of it lay a sheet 
of paper with, written in his mother's hand, 



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106 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

a false sense of pathos, but my eyes filled with 
tears, and I was indisposed to rifle callously these 
relics so lovingly put aside with natural hopes 
which now could never be fulfilled. I was about 
to make a bonfire of the box and all its con- 
tents, reverently but with speed, when my wife 
arrested me in amazement at my folly. " Why," 
she said, "cannot you see? His letters to his 
mother will be in it" " His letters from the 
East," she added, as I still did not comprehend. 
And they were in it 



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CHAPTER XIII. 

I here set down in order of their date several 
extracts from Peters' letters to his mother written 
from Saigon in the years 1878 to 1880. 

First Extract : " I have a new acquaintance, 
one Willie Cartwright, a young fellow who was 
at Oxford just after me. I spend a good deal 
of time with him because of talking Oxford 
shop and because he is fond of books ; at least 
he was brought up among them, and reads the 
books he thinks he ought to read. I have not 
got very much in common with him, for he is 
a narrow-shouldered, bilious-looking, unathletic 
fellow, with no instinct of sport in him ; but 
he is a welcome addition to my circle, because 
he is refined — in a negative way at least — and 
most of my friends' conversation here is — well, 
not refined, and it becomes a bore." 

Second Extract: "How curious that you 

should have known some of young Cartwright's 

people, for it is W. V. Cartwright I thought 

107 



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108 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

they must have lost their money since I heard of 
him at Oxford. Yes, I will try to ' take care 
of him ' a little, as you say, but really, though 
he is quiet and not sociable among men, he 
is by no means a timid youth, and he has 
quite got the name of a shrewd business man 
already." 

Third Extract : "I am rather sorry about 
Willie Cart wright He seems to have got into 
the hands of a fellow named Longhurst, who has 
lately turned up here, no one knows why. He, 
Longhurst, is a rough customer whom no one 
seems to know anything about, except that he 
has been in Australia. He has been a mining 
engineer, and seems to know also a lot about 
tropical forestry. He has wonderful yarns of 
the discoveries he has made in the Philippines, 
the Dutch Indies and all over the shop. I 
should not believe his yarns, but he seems to 
have made a little money somehow. Well, 
Cartwright now talks of becoming a partner 
with him in some wild-cat venture, and I am 
afraid he will get let in. He says himself he 
thinks Longhurst will try to do him. He had 
much better stick to his humdrum business 
here, which will give him a living at any rate, 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 109 

and perhaps enable him to retire comfortably 
when he is, say, forty-five, young enough to 
enjoy life, though one does age soon in this 
climate." 

Fourth Extract: "Cartwright and Long- 
hurst have actually gone off together. Parker, 
whom Cartwright was with, is very sick about 
it ... By the way, I ought to confess I was 
quite wrong about Longhurst I have seen a 
good deal of him since, and found him a very 
kind fellow, with an extraordinary simplicity 
about him in spite of all his varied experiences. 
I generally assume that when a man is spoken 
of as a rough diamond, the roughness is a too 
obvious fact, and the diamond a polite hypo- 
thesis, but I was wrong in Longhurst's case. 
Also I think you may reassure C.'s aunt about 
the chances of his being swindled. In strict 
confidence I think the chances are the other 
way. MacAndrew, the lawyer here, told me a 
story he had no business to tell about the 
agreement between . . ." (Part of letter lost) 

This was all. Peters before long was moved 
to Java ; and the letters to his mother ceased 
soon after, for she died. 

Not long afterwards I got Bryanston's answer 



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no TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

to my letter of enquiry to him. He told me little 
but things of which by this time I was sure. 
" C" was Cartwright (William V. Cartwright, 
he called him), and was, he conjectured, the man 
whom Peters connected with Longhurst's death. 
He would be glad to tell me at any time any- 
thing that he could, but he was off now for a 
sea voyage which the state of his health made 
necessary (a long absence immediately before 
accounted for some delay in his answering me), 
and at present he could think of nothing to tell 
me but what I should see in Peters' letter to 
him, of which he was keeping the original and 
now enclosed a copy. 

The important part of the letter enclosed was 
as follows : " I have a question to ask you 
which perhaps you will answer this time by 
return of post Never mind my previous ques- 
tion about the old Assyrians. You will re- 
member the time in 1882 when you were at 
Nagasaki, and you will remember Longhurst's 
being there and his sailing. After his disap- 
pearance it got about naturally that he sailed in 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW in 

after that, you told me that you had seen 
Longhurst with Cartwright at Nagasaki, that 
you saw them off, and that they both sailed 
together in the same ship. I have forgotten 
the name of the ship you mentioned, but it was 
a ship with some female name, and it belonged 
to your people. Will you please tell me at once 
if my recollection is right As for my reason 
for asking, I expect I told you fully my reasons 
for believing that Longhurst died by some foul 
play. I may have told you the suspicion which 
I had as to who did it It was a suspicion for 
which I was sorry afterwards, for I saw reason 
to think it quite unfounded. But I have just 
seen a man, whom I need not name, who must 
have known when and how Longhurst sailed 
from Nagasaki; and he astonished me by 
saying that he sailed in the William the Silent. 
Now one of three things : either I have got 
muddled in my recollection as to what you said, 
or, which I can hardly believe, I was mistaken 
in my identification of the body which I exhumed 
from the tomb which the chiefs showed me, or 
I was right in both points, and then a conclusion 
seems to follow which I shrink very much from 
drawing. There is one other matter of fact 



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H2 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

which I suspect and which I can easily verify, 
which would absolutely fix the guilt on the 
man I allude to, but I want to make quite 
sure from you that my memory is right as to 
Longhurst's sailing. A suspicion of my man's 
guilt came to me as I have said, long ago, but 
after making some enquiries I dismissed it sum- 
marily, for I have, or ought to have, a sort of 
hereditary friendship with him." 

So then my hypothesis had been further put 
to the test of facts, and again some of the points 
which I had guessed had proved to be true. It 
was no longer only a fanciful imagination of my 
own, but a suspicion which any sane man with 
the facts before him must feel, and feel very 
strongly. There was more than enough evi- 
dence for any sensible historian, for a lawyer 
there was still none at all. 

In September the time came that we were to 
leave Long Wilton for good. We then moved 
to a country parish, which, though deep in the 
country, is yet very near to London (and I 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 113 

and with arrangements which must instantly be 
set on foot for future work. 

Before the close of the year 1896 (I think it 
was late in October, anyway it was some time 
after I had settled into my new parish), a further 
record of the sort for which I have been looking 
came to light It was my business as executor 
to sell certain securities which had belonged to 
Peters, and for a long time there was a difficulty 
in finding with whom those securities were 
lodged Eventually, however, they were found 
in the hands of the firm who had been his agents 
while he was absent in the East, and in sending 
them to me, the firm sent also a packet which 
they told me had been deposited with them for 
safe keeping in the year 1884, on the occasion of 
a brief visit home which Peters had made. The 
packet was a large envelope on which was 
written " Notes on'the affair of L." On opening 
it I found first two maps drawn by Peters. 
The one was a rough copy of a map of the 
island Sulu, in the Philippines. The other a 
map on larger scale, very carefully drawn, ap- 
parently from Peters' own survey, of a small 



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ii 4 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

white man was shown me by the two chiefs ". 
Next I found a number of sheets taken out of 
Peters' journal, kept in the year 1882 in the 
months of July and August From this it 
appeared that Peters had at that time accom- 
panied one Dr. Kuyper, who seemed to have 
been a naturalist, upon a cruise in the Philippines, 
and that they had come to a village upon the 
coast of the island, where the Filipinos informed 
them that a month or so before, a European, 
they thought an Englishman, had come down 
from somewhere inland, with several Malay and 
Chinese servants, and had requested assistance 
in burying the body of his companion. The 
dead man, he stated, had been killed by a fall 
from some rocks. The Filipino chiefs had told 
Peters that the servants, who had not been 
present when the fall took place, were much 
excited, and seemed suspicious about it, but that 
the manner and the answers of the European 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 115 

hand), which had led Peters to identify the body 
as that of his former acquaintance, Longhurst. 
He recorded also that they had found two bullets 
from a revolver in the back of the head, and he 
made a note as to the size and pattern of revolver 
which these bullets would fit Full enquiries 
were made by Peters and Kuyper as to the 
movements of the surviving traveller, who was 
presumably the murderer, and he appeared to 
have sailed, the day after his arrival, in a 
Chinese junk, which took him up at a point 
which was indicated on the chart Peters had 
recorded also the description which the Filipinos 
gave of this visitor, and it was plain to me that 
there were points in the description which tallied 
with the appearance of Vane-Cart wright It 
seen^d, though the journal after this point was 
fragmentary, that Peters and Kuyper proceeded 
immediately afterwards to Manilla, very likely 
to communicate their discovery to the officers 
of justice. There was nothing more in the 
journal itself which it is worth while to repeat 
here. 



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u6 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

made them. There were many abbreviations 
in them, and very often they were illegible. 
They included descriptions of a number of people 
with outlandish names, and particulars as to 
where and how it was supposed they were to 
be found. Unfortunately, it was just in these 
particulars that the abbreviations and illegibility 
made the difficulties of the reader most serious. 
There were also recorded the movements, or 
a great part of the movements, of a personage 
called "X." in the months June to September 
in the year 1882. 

Further, on a separate sheet of paper, I found 
an indication of the reason why Peters had de- 
sisted from his pursuit of that person X. whom 
I thought myself able to identify. This sheet of 
paper was headed " Description given me of the 
convict Arkell executed at Singapore in Nov- 
ember, 1 882". The description corresponded 
very well with that given in the journal of the 
presumable murderer of Longhurst, and so far 
as it went it seemed to show that the convict 
Arkell might well have been confused with the 
successful and respected financier, William Vane- 
Cartwright. At the foot of the paper was a 
note, with the dates queried, as to the time when 



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Arkell had been, as he seems to have been, on 
the island of Sulu. 

There was also among these papers one which 
began, " These, so far as I can recollect them, 
are the facts told me by MacAndrew in regard 
to the agreements made in 1880 between X. and 
L." MacAndrew's story/had apparently related 
to changes made in the draft of the agree- 
ment, at the instance of X., which MacAndrew 
evidently thought that L. had not understood. 
The note seemed to have been finished in haste 
and to have left out some important facts, which 
Peters no doubt carried in his memory, A 
lawyer, among my friends, tells me that without 
these facts it is impossible to be certain what 
exactly was the trick which " X." played upon 
" L.," and that it is even possible to suppose 
that there was no dishonesty at all in his pro- 
ceedings. 



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CHAPTER XIV. 

Towards the end of November, 1896, I again 
saw Callaghan. I had some time before ascer- 
tained that he had returned to London, and I 
daresay it may appear to the reader strange 
that I should not immediately upon his return 
have sought him out and again compared notes 
with him. But (not to mention that I had no 
reason, so far, to set great store upon Callaghan's 
observations and theories) it must be remem- 
bered that I had received a very grave warning 
as to his possible character. It is a serious 
matter for a father of a family to enter into inti- 
mate relations with a gentleman who, according 
to an eminent specialist, is a homicidal lunatic. 
So I made first a few enquiries from acquaint- 
ances of his in regard to his character and recent 
proceedings. For a while I intended to put off 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 119 

in the end my enquiries and my wife's absolute 
conviction satisfied me that the idea of his lunacy 
was really, as I had at first supposed, quite un- 
founded and foolish. 

Anyway, I at last invited Callaghan to stay 
for a couple of days in our new home. He ac- 
cepted, but for one night only. He arrived in 
the afternoon full of his Parisian adventures 
and to a less extent of his detective researches. 
With these, or with an adorned version of them, 
he entertained me for an hour or so before dinner. 
It seems that his sudden departure for Paris 
was not altogether motiveless. He had, on his 
arrival in London, heard by some accident of a 
gentleman in Paris who was a correspondent 
and intimate of Thalberg. He had immedi- 
ately conceived the notion of scraping acquaint- 
ance with this gentleman and using him as a 
means of information about Thalberg, and he 
was further drawn towards Paris by a fancy 
that he would like to study French methods of 
criminal investigation, into which, through the 



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120 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

the ambition of getting high employment in the 
Criminal Investigation Department at Scotland 
Yard So it came to pass that his studies in 
the science of criminal investigation generally, 
occupied more of his attention from that time 
till our present meeting than the particular in- 
vestigation which had at first fascinated him. 
Moreover, before he had been long in Paris he 
discovered, to his huge amusement, that he was 
himself the subject of suspicion and of close ob- 
servation, and without regard to how this might 
affect his cherished ambition of an appointment 
at Scotland Yard, he entered upon, and con- 
tinued during three whole months, an elaborate 
scheme of mystification for the French officials 
who were observing him, and, through them, for 
that very Department in which he wished to fill 
a high place. Nevertheless, he had pursued in- 
genious enquiries in regard to the (as I still 
thought him) unfortunate Thalberg, for which 
purpose he paid several flying visits to London 
and elsewhere. The result of these enquiries 
he related to me, mingling it up with the tale of 
his other adventures in such a manner that it 
was hard for me to grasp what its importance 
might be. I was able to see that Callaghan had 



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employed quite extraordinary ingenuity and 
pains in picking up the facts about Thalberg 
which he told me, but that very ingenuity struck 
me as ludicrously disproportionate to the impor- 
tance of the facts which he had found, or was 
ever likely to find along this road, Thalberg was 
a solicitor in the City who had been in a small 
way of business, till the firm of which he was 
now the sole surviving partner began, a good 
many years before, to be employed by Vane- 
Cartwright. Vane-Cartwright got this firm ap- 
pointed solicitors to a company which was formed 
to take over his original venture in the East, and 
he still continued to employ Thalberg from time 
to time upon private business of his own. Thal- 
berg's family were interested in Eastern com- 
merce, and he had correspondence with many 
persons in various parts of the far East Years 
before he had transacted for Vane-Cartwright 
a good deal of correspondence of a nature so 
secret as to be unknown to his clerks, and in 
the course of this very year he had again re- 
turned to an employment of the like kind for 
some one or other. It appeared that it might 
have been upon an errand connected with this 
secret correspondence that he had come down 



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122 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

to Long Wilton. Callaghan was much excited 
about a discovery which he had made that 
Thalberg had in January of this year been in 
correspondence with a personage in Madrid, 
telegraphing to him in a cipher employed by 
the Spanish Consulate in London, of which he 
was able to make use through an official in that 
Consulate, who had since been discharged for 
misconduct and was now in Paris. There was 
more of this nature as to the mysterious pro- 
ceedings of Thalberg, but I cannot well re- 
member how much Callaghan told me on that 
occasion, and I must observe that I have set 
down what he then told me as I understand it 
now. I was not able to understand it completely 
at the time owing to the fact that throughout 
his talk that afternoon Callaghan did not once 
allude to Vane-Cartwright by his name. 

I wondered then, and I wonder now, how far 
up to this time Callaghan suspected Vane-Cart- 
wright I believe that he did not like to avow 
to himself the full suspicion that he felt, and 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 123 

Cartwright appeared the embodiment of those 
characteristics of the Englishman which an 
Irishman knows he dislikes, but thinks that 
he ought to respect So I should guess that, 
as long as he could, he had dutifully forced 
himself to believe in Vane-Cartwright as a very 
estimable person full of English rectitude. 
In any case, for all the pains he took to follow 
up his suspicion that Thalberg was somehow 
connected with the crime, I know that he had 
not fully seen the conclusion to which this was 
leading him. 

When I went up to dress for dinner, I re- 
minded my wife of certain passages in Peters' 
manuscripts on psychology which we had read 
together with very great interest. Among these 
was a curious paper on "Imagination, Truth- 
telling and Lying," in which, beginning with 
the paradox that the correct perception of fact 
depended far more on moral qualities, and 
truthfulness in ordinary speech far more on 
intellectual qualities than was generally supposed, 
he proceeded to describe with great wealth of 
illustration some of the types under which races 
and individual men fall, in respect of their power 
of getting hold of truth and of giving it out. 



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124 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

Scattered through these pages were a number of 
remarks which came to my mind in this talk with 
Callaghan. With most of them I will not trouble 
the reader, but in one passage in particular 
Peters had pointed out the mistake of thinking 
that a man who commits glaring inaccuracies is 
necessarily on that account not worth listening 
to. Ludicrous inaccuracies, even glaring false- 
hoods as they may seem, spring often, he in- 
sisted, from the. peculiar abundance and vivacity 
of the impressions which a man receives from 
what passes before his eyes. A person with 
this gift may frequently in his memory put 
something that he has truly noticed into a wrong 
connexion, or combine two scattered fragments 
of observation, true in themselves, into a single 
totally erroneous recollection of fact But a 
man who gets things wrong in this way, is, said 
Peters, often more full of information than a 
more sober observer, because he has noticed far 
more, and after all, a very large part of what he 
has noticed is sure to be accurately retained. In 
another passage, which I am afraid I may mar 
by summarising it, Peters described how, with 
all men in some degree, but with some men in 
a wonderful degree, intellectual faculties are the 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 125 

servants of emotional interests, so that not only 
the power of inference, but even memory itself 
will do work at the bidding of pain or pleasure, 
liking or dislike, which it will not do upon a 
merely rational demand. Reminding my wife 
of this, I said I wished I knew by what test I 
could tell the true from the false in Callaghan's 
reminiscences, and by what spell I could turn 
the flow of those reminiscences into the channel 
in which they would be useful. 

As we went down to dinner she whispered to 
me that, if Callaghan was the sort of man that 
I seemed to think, she would try to turn his 
thoughts in the useful direction ; only I must 
let him alone for a little while. In the course of 
dinner, she told our guest what she had told me 
long before about Vane-Cartwright's engage- 
ment, and how it had been broken off, and just 
what the young lady had said to her. Only of 
course she did not go on to tell him the rash 
inference which she had drawn as to Vane- 
Cartwright's guilt I could see that Callaghan 
heard her with strange emotion, but my wife 



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126 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

enough, but by no means with his usual appear- 
ance of interest 

After dinner Callaghan and I retired to my 
study to smoke pipes. He sat for a long while 
silent, and I thought that he had gone to sleep, 
or should have thought so but for the contrac- 
tion of his brows. Suddenly he sat upright in 
his chair. " Faith 1" he exclaimed with great 
energy, and with the air of a man to whom a 
really thrilling thought has just occurred, "I 
know what became of those eyeglasses of mine." 
"What eyeglasses?" I asked, disappointed and 
annoyed at the triviality of what came forth as 
the issue of his cogitation. "Why," he said, 
" I once took for a short time to wearing eye- 
glasses. I was looking at the stars with a man 
one night and I found I could not count seven 
Pleiades. So I went to an oculist who said he 
would pass me for the Navy, but as I was pay- 
ing him a fee I might take a prescription for a 
pair of double eyeglasses which I never could 
keep steady on my nose." "Well?" I said 
sulkily. " Well," he answered, " it is only that 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 127 

My dear Mr. Driver," he said in a more serious 
tone, "do you really suppose that Vane-Cart- 
wright had not possessed himself of something 
handy for throwing suspicion upon you, if you 
had turned out to be the convenient man? I 
might easily have been the convenient man, 
and in that case, the morning after the murder, 
my eyeglasses would have been found smashed 
and lying on the floor of Peters' bedroom, as if 
he had knocked them off in struggling with me. 
Only (fortunately for you and me, Mr. Driver), 
Trethewy was chosen as the suitable man, and 
accidents that we know of prevented the plot 
against Trethewy working as well as perhaps 
the plot against you or me might have worked. 
Well," he continued with a smile, " I have a 
good deal more to tell you about Mr. Thalberg, 
but that will keep for a bit* and we shall under- 
stand it better later. I suspect there is some- 
thing different that you wanted to ask me about 
now." 

I asked him for anything that he remembered 
of that evening when Vane-Cartwright had first 
visited Peters at Long Wilton, while Callaghan 
was already staying in the house. He re- 
counted to me and to my wife, whom we called 



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128 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

in, the conversation and events of that evening 
in great detail An indescribable change seemed 
to have come over him for a time ; not only was 
the matter which he had to relate weighty, but 
the man himself gave me an impression of force 
and character which I had not previously sus- 
pected. I repeat only so much of his narrative 
as was of special interest for my purpose 
" After a bit," said Callaghan, "Peters and 
Vane-Cartwright got away on to the subject of 
their experiences in some Cannibal Islands, or 
French possessions, or I do not know where. 
I was not much interested, and I dozed a bit, 
till suddenly I was aroused and saw that there 
was something up. I do not know what Vane- 
Cartwright had said, but suddenly Peters said, 
'Sailed in what?' three times as quick and 
three times as loud as his usual way of speak- 
ing. That was what woke me up. ' In the ' 
— I don't remember the name, I did not quite 
catch it, for Vane-Cartwright was speaking 
very quietly, though I could see that his face 
was set hard and that his eyes were bright, 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 129 

quietly. Then he got up and strode slowly 
about the room with his hands clenched. He 
did not seem to notice Vane-Cartwright much, 
and Vane-Cartwright went on talking, in as 
indifferent a way as he could, about cyclones 
and things, the usual sort of travellers' talk, only 
without the lies that I should have thrown in ; 
but he was watching Peters all the time like a 
cat After a while Peters sat down again and 
seemed quite composed, and talked again in 
quite a friendly way, but it seemed to be an 
effort Then he went and wrote a letter at the 
other end of the room, two letters rather ; one 
I noticed was addressed to Bombay, or Beirut, 
or somewhere beginning with a B. Both the 
letters had twopenny-halfpenny stamps on them. 
Soon it was bedtime ; but Peters was for taking 
his letters down to the post that they might 
go early in the morning, and Vane-Cartwright 
was very anxious to take the letters for him, as 
it would be very little out of his way to go down 
to the post Peters thanked him in that very 
polite way which he had with him when he did 



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i 3 o TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

rather pressingly to come too. I suppose he 
would have felt lonely in that man's company, 
for certainly he did not want to talk to me. 
I do not think he said more than two words 
to me after we parted from Vane-Cartwright, 
who, by the way, kept with us all the way to the 
post office, which was not on his way home; 
but, just as we were getting back, Peters said 
to me suddenly, ' Let me see, did I ask him to 
stay with me next time he came here ? ' ' I do 
not know/ said I. ' Well, good-night/ said he." 
At this point I broke in upon Callaghan's 
story with loud regrets that Peters had written 
those letters with the murderer in the room, 
" For you know what those letters were about," 
I added, remembering that he did not. "I 
know," said he, "but he could not help it; 
he was an Englishman. You English always 
show your hand. Not because you are frank 
and outspoken, for you are anything but that, 
but because you are so proud. You know," he 
went on, "that I have a devout belief in the 
English qualities that all we Irish hear so 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 131 

acted as Peters did. I rather hope that when 
I had got scent of the fellow's dirty secret — 
whatever it was, for I have not a notion about 
that — I would have exploded at once and had 
it out with him. I daresay I should not, but, 
if I had not, at least I should have taken the 
trouble to dissemble properly." "If he had 
done either," I said, " he would be alive to-day, 
and Vane-Cartwright would not be a murderer, 

or at least " " I understand you," said he. 

He continued his story, and related with great 
detail what was done and said day by day during 
Vane-Cartwright's calamitous sojourn in Peters' 
house when he returned to stay there. He de- 
scribed the relations of the two men as being 
exactly the reverse of what they had been when 
he had formerly seen them together. Then 
Peters had been genial and friendly, Vane-Cart- 
wright stiff and unforthcoming. Now it was 
very much the other way. Several times, it 
appeared, the conversation had got upon the 
subject of Peters' Eastern travels. Each time 
the conversation had been led thither by Vane- 
Cartwright in a way of which I was after- 
wards to have experience. Peters was in a 
manner compelled to enter into it and com- 

9* 



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132 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

pelled to yield information which Callaghan at 
the moment had thought utterly trivial, but 
which he now saw clearly Vane-Cartwright was 
anxious to possess. The information which was 
extracted seems to have related to all the places 
that Peters had visited in the East, and all the 
people whom he had ever met, and Callaghan 
remembered, or fancied, that several times, while 
he was being thus drawn out, Peters showed 
curious irritation. It appeared most strikingly 
from Callaghan 's recital that Vane-Cartwright 
had throughout shown the coolest readiness to 
talk about the scene of his crime, if he had 
committed one, and to take Peters' recollection 
back to the old days of his association with 
Longhurst 

But now I must explain that through all 
that Callaghan told me, ran the same strain of 
odd and fantastic inaccuracy to which I have 
more than once alluded. Several times, for 
example, he said that I was present at conver- 
sations at which I certainly was not present. 
He repeated to me remarks of my own, which, 
if I ever said anything like them, were made 
on a totally different occasion from that of 
which he spoke. One of those remarks had 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 133 

really been made within three hours of the time 
when he repeated it to me, and could not have 
been made previously. This is perhaps the 
best example that I can give of what caused 
me a most exasperating sense of disappoint- 
ment. Disappointment because, where I could 
not check him, Callaghan seemed to be sup- 
plying me, in the greatest fulness and in the 
most credible manner, with just the information 
that I desired ; but where I could check him, 
though he was now and then curiously accurate 
in his recollection of circumstances well known 
to me, which I had not thought he could have 
observed, it still more often happened that he 
was under some grotesque mistake. 

Worst of all, he gave me new details about 
the fatal night, which, if they could have been 
trusted, would have had greater weight than 
any other piece of evidence that had yet come 
to me, but they were just of the sort in which 
he was likely to be mistaken. Speaking of the 
moment at which he was called out from his 
room by the disturbance in the street, he de- 
clared that knocking immediately at Vane- 
Cartwright's door he heard, as Vane-Cartwright 
answered from the far corner of the room, a click 



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134 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

which he was certain came from the lock of the 
despatch-box which he had mentioned. He 
conjectured that among various articles which 
were there for a dark purpose, the knife which 
was the instrument of Peters 1 death lay in that 
box, and that he had interrupted Vane-Cart- 
wright in the act of taking it forth. This of 
course was mere conjecture, but what followed 
seemed at first evidence enough to have hanged 
the criminal He had opened Vane-Cartwright's 
door, and he now described to me almost every 
object that was in the room as he entered it 
Amongst others there lay upon the chest of 
drawers George Borrow's Bible in Spain in a 
binding which he described. Curiously enough 
he did not know the significance of this ; he had, 
as he told me, been so much overwhelmed with 
grief when the murder was discovered that he 
had hardly begun to see or think distinctly till 
after we had all left the room of death ; but as 
the reader may remember, this was the very 
book (and it was bound in the same way) which 
was found in that room dropped from the dead 
man's hand with torn and crumpled leaves. 
Who but Vane-Cartwright could have brought 
it there ? 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 135 

It was one of Peters' oddities, well known to 
me (and perhaps Vane-Cartwright had learnt 
it long ago at Saigon), that he would have 
welcomed at any strange hour the incursion of 
a friend to talk about anything. No doubt, I 
thought, Vane-Cartwright entered his room on 
the pretext of showing him a passage which bore 
on something he had said. Probably between 
the leaves of the Bible in Spain he carried some- 
thing that looked like a paper-knife. Anyway 
here was proof that after the hour at which any 
of us saw Peters alive, after Vane-Cartwright, 
by his own account, had last seen him, that man 
entered Peters' room. Cl But," I exclaimed, as 
all this ran through my mind, " you spoke just 
now of the. day when I was riding at Long 
Wilton, whereas I was on a horse to-day for 
the first time for four years. Ten times at 
least I have known you put things out of time 
or out of place just like that, by way of giving 
colour to your story. How do I know that 
you have not done so now, that you did not 
really see that book in Vane-Cartwright's room 
any one of the other times that you went there, 
that it had not been back in Peters' library and 
been brought up again by Peters himself?" 



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136 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

To my surprise Callaghan answered most 
humbly. He was quite aware, he said, of this 
evil trick of his mind ; he had had it from a boy, 
and his parents ought to have flogged it out of 
him. As to the particular point on which I 
challenged him, he could not himself be quite 
sure. 

During the remainder of his stay with me I 
gave him an outline of what I had so far dis- 
covered, and we compared notes upon it, but 
he was not long with me, as he had an im- 
portant engagement next evening, and our 
conference was not so full as it should have 
been. So it easily happened that neither of us 
gained the enlightenment which he might have 
gained if our talk had been fuller. But I must 
confess that I fell into the fault which he called 
English. My disclosure was more incomplete 
than it need have been ; I had not quite got 
over my instinctive wish to keep him at arm's 
length, and my pride rebelled a little at the 
discovery that this erratic Irishman was not a 
man whom I could afford to patronise. 



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CHAPTER XV. 

The chapter which I am about to write may 
well prove dreary. It will be nothing but a 
record of two deaths and of much discourage- 
ment. Here was I with my theory (for it had 
been no more) grown into a fairly connected 
history which so appealed at many points to a 
rational judgment as to leave little room for 
doubt of its truth. And yet, as I could not 
but see, there was very little in it at present 
which could form even a part of the evidence 
necessary to convict Vane-Cartwright in a 
Court of Law. I determined all the same to 
get advice upon the matter from a lawyer, who 
was my friend, thinking that it was now time 
to put my materials in the hands of the authori- 
ties charged with the detection of crime, and 
that, with this to start upon, and with the skill 



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tion that Vane-Cartwright was guilty of two 
murders, doubted whether the facts which I had 
got together would move the authorities to take 
up the matter actively. Still he undertook, 
with my approval, to talk about the subject 
with some one in the Public Prosecutor's 
office or in the Criminal Investigation Depart- 
ment of Scotland Yard, I do not know which. 
Nothing resulted from this, and the failure 
needs little explanation. Some want of touch 
between town and country police, some want 
of eagerness on the part of a skilled official 
who had lately incurred blame and disappoint- 
ment through the ludicrous failure of a keen 
pursuit upon a somewhat similar trail, these 
might account for it all. But besides, Callaghan 
had been beforehand with us, and on this occa- 
sion had managed to raise a spirit of incredulity 
about it all. Perhaps too even hardened experts 
recoiled instinctively from associating with guilt 
one of the few great men of finance who were 



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happened just about this time that he became 
keenly enamoured of an invention, made by an 
engineer friend of his, through which he per- 
suaded himself that he could make his own and 
his friend's fortune. Henceforward for some 
time the affair of Peters seems to have passed 
from his mind, and he was prevented from 
meeting me at the few times at which I should 
have been able to see him. 

In the course of December I had a letter 
from my old parish from a friend who was kind 
enough to keep me posted in the gossip of the 
place. He said that the police were now busy 
over a new clue as to the murder. It may be 
remembered that according to Trethewy he had, 
as he returned home on the night of the murder, 
been passed in the lane by a man riding a horse 
and leading another. Well, report said now 
that a man in a neighbouring parish, who had 
been greatly excited about the murder at the 
time, had been having dreams about it night 
after night, which impressed him with the notion 
that he was to discover the truth. Rooting 
about for all the recollections of that time which 
he could find among his neighbours, he heard 
that in the early morning after the murder a 



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140 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

man with two horses had been seen between 
Peters' house and the village, that another 
man, a stranger to the village, had come up 
from the direction of Peters' house and had 
mounted the second horse, and that the two 
had ridden off together. Report added that the 
man whom Trethewy had seen had now been 
traced by the police, and that his answers as to 
the man who had joined him and ridden off with 
him _ were unsatisfactory and suspicious ; and it 
added one more telling detail The police (as 
I may have mentioned) had before I left Long 
Wilton noticed one window at the back of the 
house as in some respects the readiest way by 
which the blouse could have been wrongfully 
entered. It belonged to a housemaid's closet, of 
which the door did not shut properly. It was 
very easy to climb up to it ; but then the window 
itself was very small, and it was a question 
whether a man of ordinary stature could possibly 
have squeezed himself through it; now the 
strange man of this rumour was described as 
being ridiculously small and thin. There were 
many more picturesque details related, but the 
whole story professed only to consist of unsifted 
rumour. I believed little of it, but I naturally 



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did accept the statement (quite mistaken) that 
the police were busy in the matter. With my 
fixed idea about Vane-Cartwright, I felt sure 
that they were upon a false scent. But I 
thought it very likely that this would for the 
present absorb their attention, and, between 
this and the great pressure of work in a new 
parish and of certain family anxieties, I made 
no further effort at this time to secure attention 
to the discovery which I believed I had made. 

Twice in the few days just before Christmas 
my hopes of making further discoveries were 
vainly aroused. I made a call of civility in my 
new parish upon a notable Nonconformist pa- 
rishioner, and, in my rapid survey of his sitting- 
room before he came to me, I noticed several 
indications that he had been in Australia, and 
I saw on the mantelpiece a framed photograph. 
It was rather a hazy and faded photograph 
which gave me no clear impression of its sub- 
ject, but under it was written, " Walter Long- 
hurst, Melbourne, 3rd April, 1875 ". Could 
that be my Longhurst, and was this one of those 
relations of his, whom, as I had heard, Vane- 
Cartwright had treated with suspicious gener- 
osity? Might he not, in that case, be the 



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142 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

possessor of information more valuable than he 
knew? He now came in. He was a truly 
venerable man, who in spite of great age was 
still active as a lay-preacher of one of the 
Methodist Churches, and I was attracted by 
the archaic but evidently sincere piety of his 
greeting when he entered the room. But unfor- 
tunately, when by adjusting his gold spectacles 
he had discovered of what profession I was, a 
cloud of suspicion seemed to arise in his mind, 
and he was more anxious to testify, in all charity 
but with all plain dealing, concerning priestly 
pretensions and concerning that educational 
policy which was then beginning to gather 
strength, than to enter into any such conversa- 
tion as I desired I made out, nevertheless, 
that this Walter Longhurst was probably my 
Longhurst, and my expectation rose unreason- 
ably. My new friend (if he will let me call him 
so) was no relation of his, but had known him 
at a time when both were in Australia. Long- 
hurst was from his point of view outside the 
fold besides being a rough kind of man, or, as 

l^_ ^ •*- _ a 1 1? i» l 1 _ • i _ -1 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 143 

given money, which he could then ill afford, 
though he made a good deal of money later, to 
help religious work with which my lay-preaching 
friend was connected. Later on, when my in- 
formant had returned to England and was for 
some time incapacitated by an accident which 
happened on the voyage, Longhurst, to his sur- 
prise, had from time to time sent him presents 
of money. They came in the form of bank- 
notes, sent by a mysterious agent in London, 
who gave no address to which they could be 
returned, but who wrote stating Longhurst's 
desire that he should use them for himself, or, 
if he absolutely would not, should at least use 
them in his work. All this the old man's 
gratitude obliged him to relate, but, when I 
pressed him for information about Longhurst's 
relations or friends, either he knew nothing or 
his ill-defined suspicion of me returned and shut 
his mouth. I did, however, ascertain that some 
years before (after Longhurst's death) a rich 
gentleman, whose name the old man had for- 
gotten, though I thought I could supply it, had 
heard of him in some way as one of Longhurst's 
beneficiaries, and pressed upon him a pension 
which he had refused, as he would, -if he could, 
have refused Longhurst's bounty. 



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144 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

Two days later, on Christmas Eve, I was 
urgently summoned to visit Peters' aunt, Miss 
Waterston, whom I had seen at his funeral. I 
had called upon her in the summer at her flat in 
London, but a lady who was staying with her 
remained in the room all the time, in spite, as I 
thought, of several hints that she might go, and 
Miss Waterston, when I left, said how glad she 
would be to see me again, and, she hoped, talk 
with me more fully. I took little note of this at 
the time, but I made up my mind to take my 
wife to see the old lady when I could, and 
continued thinking of it and putting it off till 
I got this summons, which told me that Miss 
Waterston was very ill and had something 
which she much wished to tell me. When I 
arrived at her flat she was dead. The lady 
who had been looking after her told me that 
she had several times shown anxiety that I 
should come soon, but had at last remarked 
that if I did not come in time she would accept 
it as a sign that what she had meant to tell me 
was best untold. She had two weeks before, 
when she was not yet ill, remarked that she 
would like to see me soon. Various straws of 
things that were told me about her suggested 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 145 

that she had lately become concerned afresh 
about her nephew's death. She had been 
intimate with the Cartwright family, and had 
to the end seen something of a rather neglected 
widowed cousin of William Vane-Cartwright's. 
Of course I have no ground for thinking that 
she had any grave disclosure to make to me. 

Christmas, that year, came sadly to me. We 
must in any case have been full of memories 
of the last Christmas, at which Peters had 
joined our party and added much to the chil- 
dren's and our own delight This Christmas 
he was dead ; the hope, not perhaps consonant 
with Christmas thoughts, of avenging him had 
arisen in my mind and was dying, and I came 
home from the deathbed of the last remaining 
person of his kin who had loved him better 
than we did, and who in the little I had seen 
of her had reflected to me some indefinable 
trace of the same noble qualities as I discovered 
in him. 

I attended her funeral. So did the old 
cousin who had come with her to Peters' 



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i 4 6 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

met at my house.- He looked to me older; 
his grey hair was turning auburn ; he was as 
unattractive to me as the rest of the appanage 
of funerals, but I was grateful to him for being 
one of the very few who came to honour the 
remains of the old woman, almost a stranger 
to me, whom I yet so truly respected. 

By the time the anniversary of Peters' death 
came round I was again alone ; it had been 
necessary after Christmas that my daughter 
should go South, and my wife had taken her. 
I was busy and therefore happy enough, and 
I did not often but I did sometimes ask myself, 
would nothing more ever turn up ? Yes, before 
long something did turn up ; something not to 
help me on but to show me that, in thinking ever 
to unravel the dark history of Longhurst's fate, 
I had started upon a hopeless task. Early in 
February a letter came to me re-directed to 
Peters from the dead letter office at Siena, 
where it had long lain entombed. It was a 
letter written by Peters to a certain Reverend 
James Verschoyle, D.D., addressing him as a 
person Peters well knew and had seen quite 
lately. It bore the date of Vane-Cartwright's 
first evening at Grenvile Combe. It reminded 
him of a conversation which he had had with 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW U7 

Peters, at their last meeting, about a very mys- 
terious event in the Philippines, and of the great 
surprise which Peters had expressed at what 
Verschoyle then told him. " To tell the truth," 
said Peters, " it should have revived a suspicion 
which I had long ago entertained against a man 
who was once my friend. Or rather, it should 
have done more than that, it should have con- 
vinced me of his guilt and given me the means 
of proving it How I came to put it from my 
mind I hardly know. I think that my recollec- 
tion of what you told me is precise, but I should 
be gready obliged if you would refer to your 
journals of the months May to October, 1882, 
and perhaps you will oblige me by copying 
out for me all that has any bearing on this 
matter. I am sorry to trouble you, but I 
am convinced that the ends of justice may 
be served by your doing this for me, and I 
suspect that if they are to be served, I must 
act as quickly as I may." 

I lost no time in tracing the Rev. James 
Verschoyle, D.D., who had about a year before 
been at Siena He had, after a sojourn in Ger- 



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148 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

trace him to his latest address, only to find that 
he had died in the previous August I had an 
interview with some of his family, and found them 
most obligingly willing to search for the jour- 
nals in question. It was strange that the journals 
for the years 1881 to 1883 could nowhere be 
found I was convinced that they had contained 
those crucial facts to which Peters had referred 
in his letter to Bryanston. 

Evidently there had been information in Dr. 
Verschoyles possession which in Peters' hands 
could have led to the conviction of Vane-Cart- 
wright Evidently Peters had once seen that 
information, but had disregarded it, more or less 
wilfully, in his determination to think his old 
acquaintance innocent, and to put the guilt on 
Arkell who had been hanged at Singapore. 
Evidently the full significance of Verschoyle's 
facts came to his mind when Vane-Cartwright, 
that evening at Grenvile Combe, had revived 
his first suspicion, and he wrote at once to 
recover the precise details. But of what nature 



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CHAPTER XVL 

So then the mystery of Longhurst's fate was 
not for me to unravel. Peters had held the 
clue of it, and had died because he held it; 
Verschoyle perhaps had the clue and was dead 
too, probably from some other cause; neither 
had recorded his secret, or the record could not 
be found As for the manner of Peters' death, 
what further place was there to look to for some 
fresh discovery ? I already had heard all that 
any of my old parishioners, any grown man 
or woman among them, knew, and it was less 
than I knew, and I had searched the neigh- 
bourhood for news, quietly, but I hoped no less 
effectively ; the police, I was now ready to be- 
lieve, had searched as zealously and more wisely. 
And so Vane-Cartwright was to go unhanged, 
and why not, after all ? he was not a homicidal 



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ISO TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

likely to be more harmfully spent than those 
of many a better man. And no innocent man 
suffered under suspicion. Trethewy had been 
found a good place by some unlooked-for bene- 
factor, where no memory of the crime would 
pursue him. Callaghan's numerous enough 
friends understood him far too well to suspect 
him, and as for his numerous acquaintances who 
were not friends, if they did suspect him, the 
good man would be rather amused than other- 
wise. Let Vane-Cartwright live and adorn 
society which is adorned by men and women 
worse than he, to whom circumstances have 
never brought the opportunity of dramatic 
wrong-doing. 

Thus I tried to think, as I left England for 
a few weeks in the late spring of 1897 to join 
my wife and our daughter, who was now much 
stronger, in Italy; but, whatever I tried to 
think, I had always with me that consciousness 
of a purpose frustrated or let go, which is per- 
haps the hardest thing to bear well and the 
most enervating thing to bear ill. 

Some ten days later I was in Florence with 
my wife. The next day we were to go to 
Rome, leaving our daughter at the villa of a 



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friend in Fiesole. I remember at our early 
breakfast telling my wife the facts or reports 
which I had been picking up about that strangely 
powerful secret organisation, the Mafia. I re- 
peated to her what I had just heard, that not 
only prominent Italian politicians, but even 
foreigners who had large commercial dealings 
with Italy, sometimes found it convenient to be 
on good terms with that society. But she was 
little interested in political facts which did not 
connect themselves with any particular person- 
ality, and I thought she had hardly heard me, 
though she raised her eyes to listen from the 
volume of Senator Villari's Savonarola which 
she was finishing. I little imagined that before 
another day had closed this chance remark of 
mine would have acquired the closest personal 
interest for her, and have been turned to very 
practical account. 

Later in the day she was in the Pitti Galleries, 
and I came there from Cook's office to join her. 
She was looking with puzzled interest at a 
picture bv Botticelli, when a tall man, dressed 



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152 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

it She turned away and met me, and was say- 
ing, half-amused, that after all there were Eng- 
lishmen who could be as rude as any foreigner, 
when, looking at him again as he moved away 
to leave the gallery, she started and said : " Oh, 
Robert, I know his face ". I too knew his face, 
and knew, as she did not, his name. " It is that 
dreadful man that I told you about who was at 
Crema. Do not you remember I told you how 
he would keep the only good room at the hotel 
when I arrived there with mother so terribly 
ill, the time she had that first stroke. And oh, 
I took such pains to write him the nicest note 
I could " — and very nice her notes could be — 
"and I could just see his horrid face as he 
glanced at it and said nothing but ' tell the lady 
I cannot ' to the waiter. And oh, poor mother 
did suffer in the dreadful hot room with all the 
kitchen noises and the smells." I did remember 
her story well, an ordinary story enough, of one 
of those neglects of courtesy which, once in 



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would feel an unreasonable relenting towards 
Vane-Cartwright, if once she realised that she 
herself owed him a grudge. Really I did not 
tell her because I had promptly formed a design 
which she would have discovered and disap- 
proved. 

That evening I left my wife on some pretext, 
and having discovered Vane-Cartwright's hotel, 
I paid him a friendly call. I suppose it was 
dishonourable ; at least, I have often reproached 
myself for it, but truly I do not know if it was 
really dishonourable. I do know that I was 
very foolish to dream, as I did, that I should 
ferret something out of him. He received me 
in his private sitting-room with cordiality, or, 
I should rather say, effusiveness. He sent a 
rather urgent message to his friend who was 
travelling with him, as if (I thought) he did not 
wish to be alone with me, but he was far from 
embarrassed. " Tell me, Mr. Driver," he began, 
as soon as we were seated, "has anything 
further been heard about the murder of our 
friend Peters?" I answered that Trethewy 
had been released and had left the neighbour- 
hood, having found a situation, through some 
friends unknown to me, and that to the best of 



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my belief, the police had discovered no further 
clue. "I am glad about Trethewy," he said. 
" You know I always suspected there had been 
some mistake there, and besides, I always liked 
the man. I do not think the police will discover 
a clue," he said, " I rather think that the solu- 
tion of the mystery will occur to some of us, his 
friends, if a solution ever is found." I was 
silent. I could not tell whether he had a design 
to allay possible suspicions of mine, or a design 
to goad me into betraying whether I had those 
suspicions, or whether he was merely keeping 
himself in practice. I wanted to drop the sub- 
ject if I could. " Do you know," he persisted, 
"whether they have found any other way in 
which the house could be entered from outside 
except the window of his room, by which I 
don't believe the murderer did enter ? " I said 
there was a small window to a housemaid's 
closet which was not fastened, and that the 
housemaid could not be quite certain that the 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 155 

Peters?" I was beginning to lose my head, 
for I felt I was playing an unworthy part. 
" Well," I said, with no particular purpose, " it 
•seems certain that it cannot have been Mr. 
Thalberg," " Certain, I should say," he an- 
swered. " Oh, no/' he added, more energetic- 
ally, " I know Thalberg well, and he is not the 
man. As for Callaghan, one might as well 
suspect you or me — me, I should say," and he 
turned away to fetch a cigar, or perhaps to 
watch me for a moment in the mirror. fl The 
fact is," he said returning, " it must be far easier 
than we, who have never had occasion to give 
our wits to it, think to commit a murder and 
hide one's tracks absolutely. But here is Mr. 
Poile, let me introduce you, and let us, for 
Heaven's sake, talk of a more cheerful subject." 
So we did turn to a subject which I should have 
thought had no pitfalls, the subject of Italian 
brocades, of which Vane-Cartwright was an 
amateur. He produced a large parcel of ancient 
and gorgeous stuffs which had come up on 
approval from a shop. He talked, in a way 
that really held all my interest for the time, 
about the patterns ; and, starting from the more 
conventional of the designs before us, he pro- 



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156 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

ceeded to discuss the history of common patterns, 
telling me curious things about the patterns and 
the fabrics of the Eastern Archipelago and the 
Malay Peninsula. Suddenly he picked up a 
really noble piece of brocade, and turning to me, 
with a face of winning simplicity and kindliness 
which he could not have learnt to assume if it 
had not at some time been natural, he said : 
44 Oh, Mr. Driver, I am so fond of picking up 
these things, and it is so hard to find any satis- 
factory use for them, it would be a real kindness 
if you would accept this as an altar-cloth for 
your church. It will be wasted in a museum 
otherwise." It was too much for me. The 
proposition that I should accept an altar-cloth 
for my church from the man that I was seeking 
to convict of murder, sent a visible shudder 
through my frame, and all the more because I 
felt that it was illogical to recoil from this when I 
had not recoiled from affecting friendship to him. 
I said " No" quite violently, and, when I collected 
my wits to utter thanks and explanations} they 
were at once too effusive and too lame to have 
blinded a stupider man than Vane-Cartwright 

I stayed long with him — should have out- 
stayed my welcome, if I had ever been welcome 



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— for I was demoralised, and had resolved in 
mere dull obstinacy both to disarm his suspicions 
somehow and to get something out of him. 
The first would have been impossible for any 
one, the second was impossible for me then, and 
at last I took leave, praying him not to come 
down with me, and descended the stairs a very 
miserable man. I had behaved stupidly, that 
was certain. I had behaved badly, that was 
possible. I had shown him that I suspected him, 
that was certain. I ought to have known before- 
hand that he would guess it, for my refusal to 
visit him in London (as I happened to have 
promised I would, before he left Long Wilton) 
had been marked enough to set him thinking. 
Had I done nothing worse than betray vague 
suspicions? Yes, in my floundering efforts I 
had recurred to his Eastern patterns, and so 
led him to Eastern travels and towards topics 
dangerous to him, only to fall into my own trap. 
He must have seen that I had somehow heard 
before, as not one Englishman in twenty thou- 
sand has heard, of the little island of Sulu. 

Wholly sick with myself I stood in the hall 
of the hotel, absently watching the porter set 
out the newly arrived letters in little heaps on 



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a table. There was one for Vane-Cartwright. 
Had I not noticed that handwriting before? 
Yes, it was a marked hand, one so obviously 
that of a servant and yet so well-formed and 
with such an elegance. I gazed at the hand- 
writing (somehow I thought of Sunday schools). 
I had just time to note the postmark before 
another letter covered it 

The corner of my eye had half-caught a 
vision of some one coming downstairs, coming 
very quietly but very quickly. A light step 
on the rug beside me, an unpleasantly gentle 
hand taking my arm, the fingers, I half-fancied, 
seeming to take measure of the size and hard- 
ness of my muscle, and Vane-Cartwright's too 
cultivated voice saying lightly, " Looking to 
see if there is any one else that you know 
coming to the hotel, Mr. Driver ? I always do 
that Well, good-night again, and so many 
thanks." "Caught again," I reflected, as I 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 159 

One question alone occupied me as I walked 
back : What was the exact significance of the 
almost certain fact that the situation which the 
Trethewys had obtained was really in Vane- 
Cartwright's service? Had I learnt that fact 
a day sooner, I might have thought that, 
murderer or not, he had done a true and 
unobtrusive kindness in secretly engaging them, 
but the little scene in the Pitti, and the trivial 
story of the best bedroom at Crema, shut 
that explanation out of my mind. I had 
not resolved this question when I got to the 
hotel and to my wife, who was now anxiously 
expecting me. I had not even thought of the 
other questions, to which it led, but I had at 
least returned in far too sensible a mood to 
think any further of disguising anything from 
her. Our talk lasted well into the night. I 
record so much of the substance of its close 
as really concerns my story. "But still I do 
not see," I said, " why you should say I have 
spoilt our holiday." "Because you must go 
by the first train to-morrow. Not a moment 
later. Oh, Robert, cannot you see why I have 
been so angry? I have looked forward so 
to our stay alone together at Rome, and at 



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160 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

another time I should be very angry to lose 
it ; but it is not that Oh, Robert, I could find 
it in my heart to beg you ijot to do your duty. 
It is your duty; you would not be so full of 
passion against the man if it was not that you 
knew it was your duty ; and I know it too, and 
you must follow up that clue at once before he 
makes it too late. But, oh, what am I saying, 
it is not your duty I am thinking of. I would 
beg you to let the duty be if that would save 
you. But it is too late now ; its a race for life 
between you and him. Peters has been killed, 
and Verschoyle has been killed, and oh ! " 

The thought was not in the least new to me 
except so far as it concerned Verschoyle. I had 
foreseen a time when my life would be in danger 
from Vane-Cartwright Stupid as it may seem, 
I had not realised yet that that time was now, 
and anyway I had resolved to treat it lightly 
myself, and hoped that it might not occur to 
her. We spent a while without words. Then 
I said, in the foolish persuasion that it was a 
manly utterance : " I do not think that I am 
brave, but somehow the idea of being murdered, 
even if I put the likelihood of it far higher than 
I do, is not one which, apart from the thought 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 161 

of you, would weigh much with me". Whatever 
I may have been going to add, I was allowed 
to go no further. I was made to see in a 
minute that the risk to my life was a real 
consideration which it was selfish and, in a 
man of normal courage, very cheap to over- 
look; but anyway, the need for haste was 
real, and, after a very short rest, I was to 
start To get ahead of Vane-Cartwright, who 
would probably look out for my departure, I 
had resolved to take horses and carriage in 
the early morning, post to Prato, and take the 
railway there. My wife was to go with our 
daughter to our friend's villa. So the next 
morning found me on my way to England, 
sad to go, and yet, I must confess, not a little 
exhilarated, against all reason, by the sense 
that perhaps it really was a race for life on 
which I had started, and a race with a formid- 
able competitor. 



ii 



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CHAPTER XVII. 

Crondall is a small market town on a chalk 
stream in a Southern county, and about two 
miles from it down the valley lies the shooting- 
and fishing-box which Vane-Cartwright, as I 
found, had lately taken, with a very consider- 
able shooting in the well-wooded hills, which 
lay behind it reaching up to the chalk downs, 
and with a mile or so of fishing in the trout- 
stream which passed through the garden. 
People shoot because it is the thing to do, 
but as a rule they do not hunt or fish unless 
they like it So it was for the shooting that 
Vane-Cartwright had taken this place, a very 
charming place for a bachelor, and within easy 
reach of town. Trethewy, however, had been 
engaged as a sort of water-bailiff and to look after 
the fishing, which he was more or less compe- 
tent to do. I found him installed in a queer 
old thatched cottage which stood on an island, 
formed by two branches of the stream, at the 

z6a 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 163 

lower end of the garden. The cottage could 
be approached by a narrow footbridge from 
a private footpath which led from CrondalL 
On the other side of the stream a public foot- 
path led towards the small village and the 
once famous fishing inn, at which I took up 
my quarters for a few nights. The bridge 
just mentioned was formed by two narrow 
brick arches, and above them were hatches 
which were now raised; and just below the 
bridge the stream was spanned by one of the 
old-fashioned fish-houses which are occasion- 
ally found on South-country streams, under the 
floor of which were large eel traps in which 
eels migrating down stream were caught. 
Under the fish-house, which was entered from 
Trethewy's cottage, the stream rushed in two 
pent-up channels which joined again in a 
broad, reed-fringed pool, with a deep dark 
hole immediately below the fish-house. My 
eye fastened on this pool at once as the best 
morning bath which had been offered me for 
some years. 
Why was Trethewy there ? Was Trethewy 



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164 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

planation, though in some ways it looked the 
most plausible. It followed that one or more 
of the family was, to the knowledge of Vane- 
Cartwright, in possession of information which, 
if it came out, would establish Vane-Cartwright's 
guilt It did not follow that any of them had 
guilty knowledge; probably they were not 
aware of the significance of what they knew. 
Which of them held this dark secret, and 
how was I to elicit it? 

In the call just after their tea-time, which I 
lost no time in paying, I found that each of 
the family was for a different reason hard to 
approach on the topic on which I was so im- 
patient to enter. I was welcomed respectfully 
and cordially enough, but they were evidently 
puzzled and surprised at my visit I tried 
Trethewy first He struck me as much im- 
proved by his season of adversity, by the more 
active life he now led, or by the rigid abstinence 
to which, as I soon gathered, he had brought 
himself; but he told me quite firmly he never 
spoke, never wished to speak of the question 
of Peters' death. He had himself suffered the 
horror of being accused when he was innocent ; 
he wished to run no risk of bringing the same 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 165 

on some other possibly innocent man. Besides, 
the guilt of his own thought and motives still 
weighed on him, and he had no wish to judge 
any other. Nevertheless, he said plainly, when 
I asked how he liked his new position, that he 
was ill at ease to have come and hoped soon 
to get away. From his impenetrable manner, 
I began to fancy that, contrary to what I had 
at first thought, the secret rested with him, and 
in that case the secret would be very difficult to 
extract As for Mrs. Trethewy, from the time 
of the murder two thoughts had mainly occupied 
her mind : anxiety for her husband, and anxiety 
that her daughter, for whose upbringing she 
was so careful, should know nothing of the 
suspicion that had rested on her father, and 
hear as little as possible of the horror that 
had occurred so near her. The girl had been 
bundled away, the very day after the discovery, 
to stay with Mrs. Trethewy's mother, who lived 
thirty miles away from their home. And to 
this day, the mother told me, the girl had no 
idea that her father had been in prison charged 
with the crime. Accordingly, Mrs. Trethewy 



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166 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

far away. She told me that he had always 
seemed to take a fancy to her husband, and had 
visited their cottage several times during his 
stay with Peters ; and that it was after a talk 
with him that she sent the girl away to her 
grandmother's. That the suggestion had actu- 
ally come from him she did not say, it was a 
mere guess of mine that he had contrived to 
put it into her head. With the girl, whom 
she sent on an errand to Crondall, I got no 
opportunity of talk that night, and I had to 
return to my inn ill-satisfied with my explora- 
tion so far, and puzzled how to proceed. 

I got my bathe next morning in the pool of 
which I have spoken (this is not quite so un- 
important as it may seem). Trethewy managed 
to ensure me privacy for the purpose, and after 
that I called on the Trethewy family again. I 
have remarked already that I supposed myself 
to have heard all that any grown-up person in 
my old parish could tell in regard to the murder 
and its surrounding circumstances. It had been 
borne on my mind strongly since my meeting 
with Vane- Cart wright at Florence, that others 
besides adults have eyes and memories, that 
Trethewy's girl had been near the house at the 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 167 

time of the murder and on the following day, 
and that I could not count on having heard 
from her parents all that she might have to say 
that might be interesting to me. When I called 
on the Trethewys again, I found it an easy 
matter to get a walk by the river-side alone 
with the girl. I had anticipated that, if I were to 
pay any decent regard to her mother's hitherto 
successful wishes for her ignorance, I might 
have to talk long and roundabout before I could 
elicit what I wanted. I soon found that it was 
not so. Ellen Trethewy, though little taller 
than before, had mentally grown in those fifteen 
months from a shy and uninteresting school- 
girl to a shy but alert, quick-witted and, as it 
now struck me, rather interesting young woman. 
We had many things belonging to old times 
to talk over, but I found her anxious herself to 
talk on the very subject on which I was bent, 
and I found in a moment that her mother's pre- 
cautions had been absolutely vain. Knowing 
her mother's wish, she had never alluded to 
the matter since; but her grandmother, who 
disliked Trethewy, had taken a keen pleasure 
in acquainting her with all that she herself 
knew (and a good deal more besides) about the 



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168 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

course of the proceedings against him. The 
girl, not quite trusting her grandmother, had 
procured and carefully read the newspaper 
account of the trial before the magistrates. She 
had never doubted for one instant, she told 
me, that her father was innocent, and it was 
with more than common understanding that 
she studied the details in the story which might 
make his innocence clear. " Is it very wicked 
of me, Mr. Driver ? " she said, " that I do not 
feel a bit, not a bit grateful to Mr. Vane-Cart- 
wright, and I do not believe father does. I do 
believe he would have gone to the workhouse 
rather, if he had known it when we came here 
that he was to be under Mr. Vane-Cartwright. 
But he thought the gentleman who sent for us, 
and who was really his agent, was the master 
of the place ; and, once we were here, mother 
begged him so not to go. Mother is always say- 
ing how good Mr. Cartwright has been to us, 
and father never answers a word ; but I am sure 
he has a plan to take us away somewhere far 
off" "Tell me," I said, " what makes you say 
all this. Have you seen anything in Mr. Vane- 
Cartwright to make you think he had some wrong 
reason for getting your father to come here ? " 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 169 

44 Oh, I do not say that," she said, 4< but I have 
always feared his looks. Always, I think, since 
he first came to our house to talk to father, and 
much more since I saw him at the window that 
dreadful morning when poor Mr. Peters lay 
dead." "Why, what could you see that morn- 
ing?" I said. i4 Oh, very little," she said. 4I You 
see, of course we heard the news as Edith passed 
by on her way to call the police, and mother told 
me to keep within doors, and she kept in her- 
self, and then she went to father and woke him, 
and she stayed there talking to him, and I was 
alone and I felt so frightened. And then the 
policeman came, and you, sir, and the doctor ; 
and by-and-by some neighbours came looking 
in. One of them was Mrs* Trimmer who kept 
the baker's shop, and I was fond of her, and I 
do not know whether it was that I was frightened 
to be alone, or just inquisitiveness, for I was a 
child then, though it is not so long ago, but, 
though I never disobeyed mother before, I did 
so that time ; and I went out, and Mrs. Trimmer 
took my hand and we walked up and looked at 
the house. It was not much we saw, for all we 



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170 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

ingso sad, poor man, and then he took a turn or 
two up and down in the hall, leaving the door 
open ; and then we could hear voices, and the 
rest of you came downstairs and into the hall, 
but I could see Mr. Vane-Cartwright come to 
the window of Mr, Peters' room, and he stood 
there looking out of the window with his hand 
leaning on the sash of the window, leaning for- 
ward, seeming to be looking out intently at the 
people below." " Did he open the latch of the 
window?" I asked at once. "I couldn't say 
that," said she. " Why were you so frightened?" 
I asked " Oh, I do not know," said she ; " he 
didn't look anything very terrible, and I couldn't 
see him well for there was frost on the window, 
but I knew him by his black moustache." 

I suppose every one of my readers has been 
guilty of mislaying some little article of impor- 
tance and looking for it everywhere but in the 
right place, which always turns out to have been 
the most obvious place of all. Perhaps I may 
be forgiven for having all these fifteen months 
been doing something analogous. I had not 
only overlooked Trethewy's daughter ; I knew 
when I spoke to Sergeant Speke about those 
tracks in the snow that there was something 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 171 

more I had meant to ask him and had forgotten ; 
and often since I had been dimly conscious of 
something forgotten. That something was the 
window-latch. The girl could not tell me about 
it, but at least it might be possible to prove by 
others, who had been in the room, that none 
but Vane-Cartwright unlatched that window. 
I make this obvious reflexion now because 

I made it then, and in making it wasted a mo- 
ment of possible talk with the girl, a trifling 
waste which was near to having momentous 
consequences. Of course it was not because 
the girl had been standing then on the lawn 
that Vane-Cartwright had taken the step, when 
every unnecessary step involved risk, of wiling 
the Trethewys away in this secret manner. He 
knew she had something more to tell ; she was 
about to tell it me. " I hardly know," she 
broke in on my silence, " whether I ought to 
think as I do, but I would like to tell you 

what " "Well, Ellen !" said, in cheerful 

tones, a voice that was somehow not cheerful, 

II taking a walk — who is the happy? — why, it 
is Mr. Driver. I did not expect the good luck 
of meeting you again so soon." Where was I 
Staying, What good chance brought me there, 



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t?a tracks in the snow 

andj Really I must move my luggage instantly 
to his house, and so forth, from the last man 
in the world whose company I desired at that 
moment 

I got off staying with him. I got off, I know 
not on what excuse, true or false, an afternoon's 
fishing and a pressingly urged dinner. But then 
(for an idea struck me) I would, if I had finished 
the sermon I was writing for a Saint's day 
service (not in the calendar, I fear) at a neigh- 
bouring church to-morrow, stroll over to Vane- 
Cartwright's after my supper if he was in any 
case going to be in. He would in any case 
be in, and delighted to see me. He would be 
in from seven onwards. He dined at 7.30, and 
if I thought better of it would be delighted to 
see me then, and I must not dress. For the 
present, as Ellen had to go home, might he not 
show me the short way to my inn. It was not 
what I should have thought a short way, but it 
was delightfully secluded, and it led us by quite 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 173 

my nerves that day that made me a little 
proudly fancy such things, for I was not only 
highly strung, I was unusually exhilarated It 
was a great change since our last meeting, for 
this time I felt that I had at last gained a definite 
advantage, and, little as he showed it, I thought 
I was talking with a desperate man. It is not 
safe to be dealing with a desperate man, but, if 
you happen not to pity him, it is not a disagree- 
able sensation. As we passed over a footbridge 
(I was going first, and there were stakes and big 
stones below on which a man might hurt him- 
self if he fell) it was probably one of my fancies 
that the shadow of my companion, cast before 
him, made an odd, quick movement with its arm. 
Anyhow, I turned my head and said with a 
laugh what a handsome stick Mr. Vane-Cart- 
wright was carrying. I asked what wood it 
was. I did not ask whether it was loaded. He 
told me what wood it was, where he bought it 
and what he gave for it He told me what 
an interesting medallion was set in the head 
of it, but he did not show me that^ medallion. 
After that I had a further fancy. It was that 
my guide took less polite pains than he had 
taken to let me pass first through every narrow 



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174 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

place. Let me say at once that I do not 
suppose he very seriously thought of attack- 
ing me there ; perhaps his eyes were open for 
any very favourable spot, but perhaps it was 
all my fancy. In spite of that fancy I was 
thoroughly enjoying my walk. It was a new 
sensation, to me to be doing most of the con- 
versation, and I was surprised and pleased with 
myself to think that I was doing it well. Perhaps 
I was doing it well, but I do not think it was 
my guidance of the talk which brought it back 
to the subject of Trethewy. Vane-Cartwright 
managed to tell me that he hoped no rumour 
of suspicion attached to Trethewy here, or to 
any one at all connected with him. Would I 
mind trying to find this out from the landlord 
at the inn. He was a greater gossip than any 
old woman in the place, and a shrewder one. 
"I would not," he added, " trust everything 
he says, for he embroiders on what he has 
heard; but he hears everything, and he is 
shrewd, and I discovered a few weeks back 
that he had an acquaintance in your old parish." 
By this time we were at the inn door, and I 
noticed the landlord's name, which was the same 
as that of a man of doubtful character who had 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 175 

come to Long Wilton just before I left it 
Several people were about, and they might, if 
they chose, hear every word of what he spoke, 
except when he dropped his voice " Stop," he 
cried, and I stood still. "I am going to be 
open with you, Mr. Driver, as open as I thought 
you would have been with me. I have been 
trying to bring myself to it all this walk, and I 
will now. I have not said what I meant " (here 
he dropped his voice) " aboutTrethewy. I have 
really " (this in a whisper) " begun to suspect 
him myself. Oh, yes, you laugh ; I know what 
you suspect of me. Do you think I cannot 
see what interpretation you put upon every 
one of my doings that you know of, in your own 
house, at Peters' before — long ago at the island 
of Sulu, I daresay. You think " (this time so 
loud that I thought the landlord and other 
men must hear, though, as I reflected later, the 
phrase he used was so chosen that a countryman 
would not readily take it in), " you think I am 
the assassin of Eustace Peters. Well, I am not" 



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176 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

for I have thought it so long, but hanging for 
it and being guilty of it are different matters." 
He kept his eyes fixed steadily on me all this 
while "You thought things looked ugly for 
Trethewy once, did you not? But I know 
you thought him innocent when it was hard to 
think so. I do not ask you to believe me, but 
I ask you to keep the same firm, clear mind 
now. You think Trethewy did not kill Peters. 
So do I. He did not actually kill him, he no 
more did that than you did. Now I know you 
will answer me straight You are too brave a 
man to care about playing the part you played 
at Florence. Have you found or have you not 
found any direct evidence whatever, true or 
false, that convicts any man — convicts him if 
it is true — of making those tracks, or of going 
to or coming from the place where they were 
made ? Shall I repeat my question ? Is it not 
clear, or are you still uncertain whether you will 
answer it ? " I could do no other ; I told him 
truly that I had nothing but inference to go 
upon as to who made those tracks, and I told 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 177 

have something better than that inference, re- 
member that there may be more subtle motives 
than you think of for making false tracks. Any- 
way (for it is no good my arguing with you 
further, I see that), here is one piece of advice 
that you may take or leave — honestly, you had 
better take it if you value your future peace of 
mind — keep your mind open a little longer. 
Go away from here, and visit Long Wilton again 
and hear what they say there now ; or, if you 
will not do that, stay here long enough to watch 
Trethewy, and the girl, and the people that you 
may see about with them, — one man in par- 
ticular. Well, good-bye, Mr. Driver, pardon 
my saying I respect you in spite of Florence." 
The manner of this last remark was maddening. 
I was keenly stung. I said, 4I Mr. Vane-Cart- 
wright, after all, Peters' death is not the only 
mysterious death you and I know of." "Oh, 
Longhurst," he said, with alight laugh which 
this time really took me aback. " I will tell 
you anything you can wish to know about poor 
Longhurst Not now, as you are not in the 
mind for it To-night, if you think better of 



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i;8 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

turned away, " old Peters had asked me straight 
out about Longhurst." He had puzzled me but 
he had not shaken me. Could he have imagined 
that he was likely to do so ? Probably not, but 
it occurred to me, directly he was gone, that he 
now knew for certain that I was dangerous; 
knew that in some ways he could play upon 
me easily, and in some ways not at all; and 
knew that I had not yet found out what I 
came to find out from Ellen Trethewy. 



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CHAPTER XVIII. 

Whether it was that my fancies pursued me 
to the inn, or that Vane-Cartwright's words had 
unconsciously impressed me, I took and have 
retained a great dislike to the gentleman who 
was just arriving at the ina He came, as he 
said, for dry-fly fishing, but his accent and his 
looks showed him to be native to a land where 
dry fly-fishing is, I believe, not practised. He 
was near me and about me several times in the 
course of that day, and though he molested me 
in no way, my dislike deepened It was now 
near midday and I contemplated taking no 
further step till evening, so I had plenty of 
time for thought, and I needed it It may be 
imagined that I was in a state of some tension. 
I had rested little since I left Vane-Cartwright's 
hotel at Florence, and on arriving at the inn I 
had news which increased my agitation. My 
wife had telegraphed to my home saying she 
had gone for a day or two to the Hdtel de 

179 ia # 



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i8o TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

Brunswick, saying also, that I must pay no at- 
tention to any wire, purporting to be from her, 
which did not contain the word "Fidele". 
Evidently there was some one in Florence 
whom she suspected would send false messages. 
I conjectured that Vane-Cartwright had an un- 
derstanding with the Mafia, and had obtained 
through them the services of some villain. 
Well, here was a wire : " Regret to acquaint 
respected sir, Mrs. Driver suddenly unwell. — 
Direttore Hdtel Brunswick." 

There is one advantage about being tired. 
It prevents the mind from wandering away on 
so many side tracks. But with all that advan- 
tage, whatever it may be worth, it took me a 
full half-hour to make up my mind how to 
regard this; but I came back to my first im- 
pulse, not on the first occasion to disregard what 
my wife herself had undoubtedly telegraphed. 

On the other main points I may acquit myself 
of having wavered, and I will not mystify the 
reader more than I mystified myself. I had not 
the faintest doubt that Vane-Cartwright's sug- 
gestion about the Trethewy family, whatever its 
object might be, was a well-acted lie. However, 
I determined to follow the suggestion to some 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 181 

extent I got hold of the landlord ; he was all 
that Vane-Cartwright had said, and on a very 
slight hint he began talking of the Long Wil- 
ton murder and of the charge against Trethewy. 
I was disgusted to find that suspicion had 
followed the people here. It was not clearly 
to Vane-Cartwright's interest that it should 
follow them, and I suppose it was accident I 
found that the landlord was well posted as to 
Trethewy's story and all the proceedings in 
regard to him. As he went on hinting sus- 
picion of him, I said it was a curious thing 
about those tracks. "Ah," said he, u little 
feet can wear big shoes ; " and he looked wise. 
"About that lass now of Trethewy's, not but 
what I like the lass," he was continuing after a 
solemn interval, but I need not try to repeat 
his talk. The upshot of the suggestion was 
simply this, that the girl had stepped out in her 
father's boots and made the tracks, knowing full 
well that she could ensure the detection of the 
false tracks hereafter, but for which of two 
reasons rumour was not certain. Either it 
was really to fasten false suspicion on her father 



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182 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

mitted the crime, and she knew it, and to save 
him had fabricated against him evidence which 
he and she knew would be broken down. 

It was not a likely story to tell to me, and I 
was inclined now, not for the first time, to be 
thankful that however great a fool I might be, 
I looked a greater fool than I was. By putting 
me up to eliciting this story, Vane-Cartwright 
had merely supplied me with knowledge about 
the situation of the Trethewys which I might 
find useful in dealing with them. 

I felt that I had brought danger not only 
upon myself but also upon the Trethewys. I 
was in some doubt whether by going to them 
again that night I might not be bringing danger 
nearer them, but the impulse to be beside them 
if danger were there impelled me to go. I 
arrived about nightfall. I found Trethewy him- 
self preparing to leave the house. He had 
been bidden to go and help in repairing a 
threatening breach of a mill-dam some way up 
the stream, and he evidently felt surprised and 
suspicious about the errand on which he was 
sent Replying to a look of enquiry in my 
face, he said : " Sir, I never disobeyed my 
master's orders yet ", " No ? " he added, looking 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 183 

suddenly abashed, " I behaved badly enough 
by my old master, but I never disobeyed orders, 
and I should not like to begin doing so now." 
I said that, if he went I should stay at his house 
till he returned. He said, "It would be a kind- 
ness that I should always remember, sir". And 
so he went 

Poor Mrs. Trethewy appeared ill-pleased at 
my presence. She seemed to guess that my 
coming was in some way to disturb their peace. 
I fancied that, in getting the mastery over his 
drinking and his wrathful ways, Trethewy had 
become very gentle and submissive to his wife. 
In her days of difficulty I had been used to ad- 
mire her for the way in which she brought up 
her daughter. I now did not think her improved 
by finding herself more the mistress of her house 
than she was wont to be. Still she was civil 
enough, and willing, after the girl had gone to 
bed in a sort of cupboard off the parlour-kitchen, 
to entertain me with her best conversation. I 



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184 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

that day that rumour had followed them to their 
new home. From my heart I pitied her, for she 
seemed utterly cast down as she began to realise 
that Ellen must come to hear all, if indeed she 
had not heard it already. 

Suddenly the girl burst into the room and 
threw her arms round her mother's neck. M Oh, 
mother, mother!" she said, "I cannot keep 
on deceiving you. Dear, kind mother, who 
wanted to deceive me for my good. I would 
have given so much that you should not know 
this, but grandmother told me all." "Go to 
bed now, dear," said her mother; "I cannot 
bear more to-night" The mother too went to 
bed, and I lay down under a rug upon the 
sofa. 

I had no intention of keeping awake all 
night Gladly as in my excited state I would 
have done so, it was a necessity that I should 
get such rest as I could. I lay on a shake-down 
which Mrs. Trethewy provided for me, and I 
thought of Florence and of one whom I had 
left at Florence. Then I slept, and I dreamed, 
dreamed that she was ill and wanted me. I 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 185 

God, it was a dream. I assured myself of that 
and slept again to dream more pleasantly. 

I dreamed I was a boy and I was swimming 
in a clear river. Cool, cool river ! 

There was a fish in the river, and I was 
swimming after the fish. Cool, cool river! 

It was an ugly fish, and I was pursuing it, and 
the river was warm. 

The fish was Vane-Cartwright, and I was 
pursuing him. Warm, warm river! 

The river was gone from my dream, and I 
was pursuing Vane-Cartwright over a great 
plain. Warmer and warmer! 

I pursued him through thick woodlands. 
Sultry and stifling! 

I pursued him over a great mountain. Burn- 
ing, burning hot ! 

I leapt to my feet calling " Fire ! " 

In waking fact, the thatched cottage was in a 
blaze. 

I called with all my might to Mrs. Trethewy. 
I told her to run out while I brought out her 
daughter, and she answered. 

I burst into the girl's little room on the ground 



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186 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

bed, and bore her through the door and on to 
the footbridge. I turned my head back to- 
wards the house to call again to Mrs. Trethewy, 
when a hoarse cry of " Fire ! " came from the 
other direction, and a man — he seemed an old 
grey-bearded rustic — ran on to the bridge to- 
wards the door, dashed with full force against us, 
and overturned me and my half-conscious burden. 
I do not know just how we rolled or fell, but 
we were in the water. I had managed still to 
hold Ellen Trethewy with my right arm, and 
with my left hand to catch the edge of the foot- 
bridge. I could not by any effort have pulled 
us both out or raised her on to the bridge, but 
it was easy to hold our heads above water, for 
we were against the pier of the bridge, in be- 
tween the two currents that shot under the 
arches. Mrs. Trethewy would be there in a 
moment and could help us out; or — why did 
not that old rustic help us? 

TliA*r cow «-Jio+ m^n in mAmpntc rS ^vt-r^mA 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 187 

I glanced up, and the old rustic stood over us 
raising a mighty stick which I thought was not 
that which Vane-Cartwright had carried in the 
morning. So much I did see and think. 

One good blow and I should have been 
stunned, if my brains were not out Whether 
we got entangled in the eel grating or were 
carried right under the fish-house into the pool, 
there was little chance for either of our lives if 
that blow had fallen where it was aimed. 

I let go my hold on the bridge and threw my 
head back, and the stick crashed idly on the 
bricks of the margin. I tried to get one long 
breath before we went under, but I swallowed 
a horrible gulp of water. Good chance or my 
convulsive effort guided us into the arch for 
which I would have steered. Under one arch 
the old eel grating remained. I did not know 
its structure, and I did not know whether the 
trap-door over it was fastened down, but there 
was little hope that we should pass that way 
alive. Under the other arch, as I had found that 
morning, the grating had long been removed, 
and down that archway the strong stream was 
carrying us, safe, if it did not throttle us on the 
way. How long a passage I thought it, though 



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188 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

the rush of the water seemed so headlong. I 
could feel the slimy growth on the brick arch- 
way above us, and my nostrils were for a moment 
above water though my mouth was pressed 
under. Then we were under the floor of the 
fish-house, and my head rose and I got a gulp 
of air, but my head struck a joist of the floor, 
and the stream swept me on, ducking involun- 
tarily under another joist and another. We 
were out in the pool, sucked down in the bubble 
and swirl of the eddy. I opened my eyes and 
could see the glare of the fire through great 
green globes of water. I was on the surface ; I 
was swimming with great gasps ; I was under 
again; I was exhausted. My feet struck on 
pebbles : I was standing in the shallow water. 
I still held the body. Was it lifeless ? Three 
strides and I should land her on the bank. No, 
my steps sank in some two feet of almost liquid 
mud The dragging of my steps furnished just 
the little further effort needed to spend my re- 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 189 

of the pool and stood over us. That dire old 
rustic, I felt no doubt, and I felt no care. No, 
it was the girl's father. 

In the morning, shooting down that same 
dark cool avenue of sweet water, and swept 
without an effort far out into the swirling reed- 
fringed pool, I could not have imagined how 
hardly and how ill I was to pass that way again 
with a living or lifeless burden. 

She lived ; the first shock of the water had 
roused her, and she had kept a shut mouth, a 
steady grasp where it least incommoded me and 
a heroic presence of mind. 



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CHAPTER XIX 

There is not much that can be done for a 
thatched cottage once well alight, and for such 
salvage as could be done there were plenty of 
ready helpers soon upon the scene. That aged 
rustic was not among them, nor did I afterwards 
see or hear of him ; but among them before long 
appeared Vane-Cartwright himself, brisk and 
alert, and forward to proffer to Trethewy every 
sort of help and accommodation for his now 
homeless family. Trethewy's response was 
characteristic — total and absolute silence. 

It seemed late but was still early morning 
when I had the Trethewys assembled for break- 
fast in my private sitting-room in my inn. 
Neighbours had readily supplied the women 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 191 

from the first, of being in Vane-Cartwright's 
service, and he told me that he had just decided 
to accept a situation which was open to him in 
Canada, and had expected to sail with his family, 
who did not yet know it, in six weeks, but 
supposed he must put it off now. 

At last I really heard what it was that Ellen 
Trethewy could tell and for knowing which she 
had been removed to Crondall, and it did not 
come up to my expectations. 

About noon after Peters' murder, after Cal- 
laghan and I had gone into the village, and 
while Vane-Cartwright, by his own account, 
had stayed reading in the house, the girl had 
twice seen him as she looked out of the window 
of the cottage. She had seen him come out of 
the gate of the drive and turn to the right up 
the road away from the village. About twenty 
minutes later she had seen him turn in again at 
the gate, and this time he came down the green 
lane. To any one who knew the lie of the 
ground, the significance of this was certain. 
He could not have got round by road or by 
any public footpath in that time ; either he had 
come through the plantation and the fields, 
where the tracks were made, or he must have 



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192 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

made a round over ditches and hedges and 
rough ground by which a man taking a casual 
and innocent stroll was extremely unlikely to 
have gone, especially in frost and snow. 

The inference was convincing enough to me, 
but then, as I knew, I was ready to be con- 
vinced. Vane-Cartwright was not likely, I felt, 
to have done so much to prevent the girl re- 
vealing merely this. Was there nothing more ? 

Yes, there was, but it was something of which 
Ellen did not feel sure. During that twenty 
minutes the sun shone out brilliantly upon the 
snow, and tempted her to stroll out a little 
way up the drive, when she stood for awhile to 
look, in spite of the horror of the time, with 
delight at the spotless covering of the lawn and 
the shining burden of the cedar branches, and 
then up at the sun. Her eyes were soon so 
dazzled that all sorts of fancied shapes danced 
before them. Turning suddenly and looking 
towards the field, she thought for an instant, but 
only an instant, that she saw between two trees 
a man up in the field, about half-way up, walk- 
ing towards the hedge, towards a spot in the 
hedge which we already know. She covered 
her eyes with her hand and looked again with 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 193 

clearer vision. There was no one there, and 
she tried to brush aside the fancy that she had 
seen any one. But somehow she had often 
wondered since about what she had seen, and 
somehow she connected it in her fancy with the 
murder. She could not connect it with the 
making of the tracks, for she had only read of 
them in a muddled newspaper report which had 
given an entirely wrong impression as to where- 
abouts they were found. Now it was all ob- 
vious. Vane-Cartwright, while he made those 
very tracks, had passed before her eyes ; he had 
seen her standing and looking towards him, and 
he could not entertain the hope, though it was 
true, that her eyes did not see him clear. 

This much being plain, my first thought was 
of amazement at the coolness of Vane-Cart- 
wright on the evening after the murder, while 
he could not be sure that the discovery of the 
tracks had not been told to the girl and had not 
already drawn forth from her an explanation 
which, if believed, must be fatal to him. My 
second thought was of great disappointment that 
the identification of him with the maker of the 
tracks was still to so large an extent a matter 
of inference. I cannot say whether I myself, 



13 



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194 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

or Trethewy, or the girl, who, having long 
brooded over these matters without the neces- 
sary clue, now showed astonishing quickness in 
grasping them, was first to see the next step 
which the enquiry required. Evidence must be 
sought which would show whether Vane-Cart- 
wright or some other person had undone the 
window-latch in Peters' room. I was ready 
immediately to rush off to Long Wilton and see 
whether Sergeant Speke could recollect any- 
thing of importance about the movements of 
the persons who were in the room that morning. 
It was the girl who suggested to me a possible 
witness rather nearer at hand The young 
doctor had been in the room till nearly the last, 
and, as her mother happened to have told her, 
he had very shortly after the event in question 
removed to London. Could not I see him ? 

I resolved to see him, if I could, that day, 
for I thought I could gain nothing by further 
waiting near CrondalL I was anxious about 
the safety of Ellen Trethewy, but I found her 
father, who was as much persuaded as I of the 
peril which continued to hang over her, had 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 195 

and it reassured me to see a reminiscence of 
his wild youth sparkle in his now sober coun- 
tenance as he said that it would not be the first 
time that he had baffled a pursuit 

Upon some calculation, prompted perhaps by 
excessive precaution and futile craft, such as 
may well be excused in excited men who have 
found themselves surrounded by unimagined 
dangers, we decided that I should not start for 
any of the stations on the branch line that 
passes Crondall, but should leave my luggage 
behind, drive, in a fast trap which the baker 
sometimes let out, to an ancient castle in the 
neighbourhood, thence, three miles, to the junc- 
tion on the main line to London, send the trap 
back with a note to my landlord, and go to 
town by the one fast train in the day which 
there was easy time to catch. I suppose we 
thought I should get some start of Vane-Cart- 
wright, and that this was worth while, as he 
was likely to stick close to me, and had shown 
already his fertility of baleful resource. 

Accordingly, I arrived at the junction just as 
the up-train came in. The train from Crondall 
had arrived a litde while before, and was stand- 
ing in a bay on the other side of my platform 



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196 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

of departure. I was by this time so sleepy that 
I could hardly keep my eyes open as I walked. 
I did barely notice the screaming approach of 
a third train, which was in fact the down-train 
from London, but in which of course I felt no 
interest, and I noticed some but not quite all of 
the people on the platform or in the waiting- 
shed. I took my seat in the far corner of a 
carriage. I began instantly to doze, and the 
train, I believe, waited there awhile. I faintly 
heard shouts and whistles which heralded the 
starting of the train, but it did not start im- 
mediately. When the carriage door again 
opened and two other passengers got in, I did 
half-open my eyes ; but I started broad awake 
when to those half-open eyes my fellow-pas- 
sengers revealed themselves as Vane-Cartwright 
and the foreign visitor at the inn, whose looks I 
had irrationally disliked. I say broad awake — 
but not awake enough to do the proper thing to 
be done. The train was already in motion before 
they sat down, and my fellow-passengers with 
their luggage so encumbered the door that I 
could not have got back on to the platform. 
I ought, I suppose, to have pulled the communi- 
cation cord. As it was, I merely sat up, looking 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 197 

at them as indifferently as I could, while really 
my heart sank within me, and I wished my 
muscles had not been so stiff and chilled from 
my adventure of the night before. 

The train was moving but not yet fast. It 
seemed to be slowing down again. There was 
fresh shouting and whistling on the platform ; 
the stationmaster saying angrily, " Put him in 
here " ; a voice that sounded somehow well 
known, but which I could not recognise, answer- 
ing him vigorously ; and just as the train began 
to go faster a big man, still shouting and very 
hot with pursuit, tumbled into the carriage. To 
my delighted surprise I found myself joined by 
Callaghan. 

The most surprising turns of good fortune, I 
have learned to think, are generally the reward 
of more than common forethought on the part 
of some one. My rescue in this case, which I 
will none the less call providential, could never 
have happened but for the zealous care of Cal- 
laghan himself, and of another person many 
hundred miles from the scene. 

But of all this I was soon to hear. Mean- 



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ip8 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

nition, and poured himself forth upon Vane- 
Cartwright with an exuberance of pleasure at 
the unexpected meeting which must have been 
maddening. It was the only time, during my 
acquaintance with Vane-Cartwright, when he 
appeared to be in the least at a loss. Hearty 
good-humour was, I should think, the only atti- 
tude towards him which he did not know how 
to meet So he passed, I take it, a miserable 
journey. Nor was his mysterious companion 
left to enjoy himself. To my astonishment 
Callaghan addressed him politely by a strange- 
sounding name, which I suppress, but which 
from the start which the gentleman gave 
appeared to be his name. 

As for me, Callaghan leaving me in the 
corner which I had originally chosen had 
manoeuvred Vane-Cartwright into the other 
corner of the same side of the carriage, and the 
stranger into the seat opposite him, while he 
placed himself between me and Vane-Cartwright, 
and with his back half-turned towards me enter- 
tained them both. 

I dozed away again and again, and I daresay 
I was asleep for a good part of the journey, 
but I endeavoured to think out in my waking 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 199 

moments what was the nature of the peril which 
had threatened me, for peril assuredly there 
was, and how it could have come about that I 
was thus rescued. 

As to the former question, I got no further 
than the reflexion, that to stick me with a knife 
and jump on the line or make a bolt at the 
London terminus (which was our first stop) 
would have been too crude for the purpose. 
As to the latter question, Callaghan, suffering 
our fellow-passengers to escape for a moment 
behind their newspapers, roused me with a 
nudge, and surreptitiously passed me what 
proved to be several pounds' worth of tele- 
graphic message from my wife at Florence to 
himself. I was hardly yet aware how thoroughly 
my wife's original aversion for Callaghan had 
given way in the day when he had been her 
guest, and when she had passed from observing 
his weaknesses to putting up with them and 
occasionally reproving them. I learned now 
that a few hours after I had left her, mv wife 



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300 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

which might determine my movements, and 
entreating him to find me, and having found 
me, never to leave me alone. But that was not 
all. The telegram stated that Vane-Cartwright 
was on his way home, having sent home one 
communication only, a telegram to a registered 
telegraphic address in London, that address 
being the word by which Callaghan had accosted 
the stranger. 

As I afterwards learned, my wife, directly I 
had departed, had removed to Vane-Cartwrights 
hotel. Vane-Cartwright did not know her by 
sight, and, if he had discovered her, he was the 
sort of man who would probably despise the 
intelligence of any nice woman. She had taken 
the best rooms in the hotel, close to Vane- 
Cartwright's, and had otherwise set about, for 
the first time in her life, and for a few hours, 
to throw money about in showy extravagance. 
By money and flattery she had contrived to be 
informed of the address of every letter and 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 201 

had returned and had enquired whether she had 
moved to that hotel, but had not asked to see 
her. She learned also that Vane-Cartwright 
had been at the station when the Milan train 
started, but had returned and waited for the next 
train. The reader already knows that she had 
had the intuition that false messages might be 
sent me in her name. 

Callaghan had been away from home, and 
had not got the message till late in the evening 
before he joined me. He lost no time in going 
to my house to ascertain my address and what 
had last been heard of me. He called also at 
Vane-Cartwright's house, where he was only 
informed that he was abroad. He left London 
by the first train in the morning armed with a 
Bradshaw and a map. Study of Bradshaw had 
led him to notice that I might possibly be leav- 
ing by a train which would be at the junction 
about the same time as his. So he was on the 
look out, and with his quick sight actually saw 
me in mv train as he arrived. Bv running hard 



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202 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

that Vane-Cartwright, who had not been con- 
versational before, had just started an interesting 
subject by which he hoped to detain Callaghan 
while our mysterious companion got away from 
the train. It was not a successful effort Cal- 
laghan pushed me somewhat rudely out of the 
carriage, and jumping out after me told me to 
wait for him, and kept me, while he stood about 
on the platform till every passenger by the train 
but ourselves had gone away. At last he called 
a hansom ; still he did not enter it till the driver 
of an invalid carriage which had been waiting 
in the rank of cabs appeared to give up the 
expectation that the person for whom he waited 
was coming, and drove away. 

"Do you see that invalid carriage?" said 
Callaghan to me. " It was ordered for you." 



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CHAPTER XX. 

Here let me mention that I have fancied since 
that I recognised the ill-looking foreigner who 
was with me at the inn and in the train. I 
recognised him in a chemist's shop in a very 
fashionable shopping street I think it would 
be libellous to name the street The telegraphic 
address which my wife sent to Callaghan was 
the telegraphic address of that fashionable 
chemist's shop. 

I had intended to take leave of Callaghan for 
the time upon our arrival at the station, but I 
found that this was not to be done, for Callaghan 
was determined to obey almost to the letter my 
wife's behest to him, not to leave ma He took 
me to luncheon at a restaurant, and then pre- 
vailed upon me to come with him by one of our 
fast trains to my own house, collect there all 
the papers which I possessed bearing on the 
affair of Peters, and bring them to his chambers, 
where he was resolved I should at present stay. 

*>3 



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204 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

When we arrived there, I was for starting at 
once to seek out the doctor who had been at 
Long Wilton, but I was practically overpowered 
and sent to bed, after handing over to Callaghan, 
amongst other papers, the notes which Peters 
had made as to the death of Longhurst 

After some hours Callaghan entered my 
room to tell me that dinner would be ready in 
half an hour, that I might get up for it if I liked, 
or have it brought to my bedroom. He then 
turned on me reproachfully. " Why had I not 
shown him these papers long ago, when he 
came to stay with me ? " I was at a loss for an 
answer, for in fact when I had told him of my 
suspicions and my reasons for them, I had done 
the thing by halves, because my want of confi- 
dence in him lingered. 

"Well, well," said my good-natured friend, 
41 1 daresay I can guess the reason. But these 
papers explain much to me. You never told 
me it was the island of Sulu on which Peters 
discovered the body, or that he went there with 
Dr. Kuyper. I had heard the name of that 
island and the doctor before— on the last night 
of Peters' life while you were talking music with 
Thalberg." 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 205 

Next morning I set off early to see the doctor 
who had been ^t Long Wilton. Callaghan, who 
at first seemed to think it his duty to be with 
me everywhere, gave way and consented to go 
upon some business of his own about which 
he was very mysterious ; but he put me in the 
charge of his servant, a man singularly fitted to 
be his servant, an Irishman and an old soldier, 
who, I discovered, had made himself very useful 
to him in his spying upon Thalberg, having 
entered into a close and I daresay bibulous 
friendship with one of Thalberg's clerks. My 
new guardian so far relaxed his precautions as 
to allow me to be alone with the doctor in his 
consulting-room ; he otherwise looked after me 
as though he thought me a child, and from 
the very look of him one could see that I was 
well protected, though indeed I hardly imagined 
then that the perils which beset me at Crondall 
would follow me through the streets of London. 

I asked the doctor kindly to give me all his 
recollections as to what occurred in Peters' bed- 
room while he was there. He told me little 
but what was of a professional nature, and he 
informed me rather dryly that he made it his 
practice on all occasions to observe only what 



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206 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

concerned him professionally. I therefore put 
to him with very little hope the main question 
which I had come to ask — Had he observed 
anything about the windows, "Certainly," he 
said, " that, as it happens, is a professional matter 
with me. I never enter a sickroom without 
glancing at the windows, and I did so from force 
of habit this time, though " (and he laughed with 
an ugly sense of humour) "it didn't matter 
much, as no fresh air could have revived that 
patient ; but the windows were shut, and (for I 
often notice that too) they were tight shut and 
latched." "Are you certain," I said, "that 
both of them were latched ? " " Certain," he 
answered; "they were both latched when I 
came into the room, and they were latched 
when I went out, for I happened to have looked 
again. You see that, once one has the habit 
of noticing a certain kind of thing, one always 
notices it and remembers it easily, however litde 
else one may see." I asked him then whether 
he happened to remember the order in which 
the persons who had then been in the room 
left it About this he was not so certain, but 
he had an impression that only two persons 
were left in the room after him. These were 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 207 

the police-sergeant, who held the door open for 
a moment while Vane-Cartwright lingered, and 
who locked it when they had all left I may 
say at once that this was afterwards confirmed 
by the police-sergeant, who added that Vane- 
Cartwright was standing somewhere not far 
from the window in question. 

I returned by appointment to Callaghan's 
chambers some time before elevea I was 
immediately taken out by him again upon an 
errand which he refused to explain. We 
arrived at length at an office in the City which 
from the name on the door proved to be that 
of Mr. Thalberg, Solicitor and Commissioner 
for Oaths. We were ushered into Mr. Thal- 
berg's private room, and it immediately appeared 
that Callaghan had come to give instructions 
for the making of his will. He explained my 
being there by saying there was a point in his 
will about which he desired to consult both of 
us. I was thus compelled to be present at what 
for a while struck me as a very tedious farce. 
Callaghan, after consulting Mr. Thalberg upon 
the very elementary question whether or not he 
thought it an advisable thing that a man should 
make a will, and after beating about the bush 



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208 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

in various other ways, went on to detail quite 
an extraordinary number of bequests, some of 
them personal, some of a charitable kind, which 
he desired to make. There was a bequest, for 
example, of the S&vres porcelain in his chambers 
to his cousin, Lady Belinda McConnell (there 
was no S&vres porcelain in his chambers, and 
I have never had the curiosity to look up Lady 
Belinda McConnell in the Peerage). So he 
went on, disposing, I should think, of a great 
deal more property than he possessed, till at 
last the will appeared to be complete in outline, 
when he seemed suddenly to bethink him of the 
really difficult matter for which he had desired ' 
my presence. By this time, I should say, it had 
begun to dawn upon me that the pretended will- 
making was not quite so idle a performance as 
I had at first thought Callaghan must in the 
course of it have produced on a person, who 
knew him only slightly, the impression of a 
good-natured, eccentric fellow, wholly without 
cunning and altogether unformidable. This 
was one point gained, but moreover, Mr. Thal- 
berg was rapidly falling into that nervous and 
helpless condition into which a weak man of 
business can generally be thrown by the unkind 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 209 

expedient of wasting his time. It now appeared 
that the real subject on which Mr. Thalberg and 
I were to be consulted was the disposal of 
Callaghan's papers in the event of his death. 
Callaghan explained that he would leave be- 
hind him if he died (and he felt, he said, that he 
might die suddenly) a great quantity of literary 
work which he should be sorry should perish. 
He would leave all his papers to the discretion 
of certain literary executors (he thought these 
would perhaps be Mr. George Meredith and 
Mr. Ruskin), but there were memoirs among 
them relating to a sad affair in which persons 
living, including Mr. Thalberg and myself, 
were in a manner concerned. He referred to 
the lamented death of Mr. Peters, the circum- 
stances connected with which had been for him 
a matter of profound and he trusted not un- 
profitable study. He felt that in any directions 
he might leave in regard to these memoirs it 
was only fair that he should consult the gentle- 



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210 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

address of a certain person to whom he must 
telegraph to put off an appointment with him. 
A clerk brought the London Directory from an 
outside room, and was about to retire. " Stop 
a moment, Mr. Clerk, if you don't mind," said 
Callaghan, and he slightly edged back his chair, 
so as to block the clerks going out, " perhaps it 
is the Suburban Directory that I want Let us 
just look," and he began turning over the leaves. 
11 Ferndale Avenue," he said, " that's not it ; 
Ferndale Terrace — you see, Mr. Thalberg," he 
said, " I would like to talk this matter out with 
you before I go — Ferndale Crescent — right side, 
No. 43, 44, No." (all this time his finger was 
running down a column under the letter B in 
the Trades Directory) "45, 46, 47 ; I thought 
he was thereabouts. Here's the name," he said. 
M You see, Mr. Thalberg, your own movements, 
if they were not explained, would look rather 
curious — 47, 49, no, that's not it — look rather 
curious, as I was saying, in connexion with that 
murder of Peters — look ugly, you know — 51 
Ferndale Crescent, that's it Thank you, Mr. 
Clerk," and he shut the Directory with a bang 
and handed it back to the clerk with a bow, and 
made way for him to leave the room. 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 211 

Mr. Thalberg bounded from his chair and 
collapsed into it again. "Stop, Mr. Manson," 
he cried to the clerk, " you must be present at 
whatever else this gentleman may have to say." 
He sat for a moment breathing hard, more I 
thought with alarm than with anger. He did 
not seem to me to have any presence of mind 
or any of the intellectual attributes, at any rate, 
of guile, and I could not help wondering as I 
watched him, whether this really was the man 
whom Vane-Cartwright chose for his agent 
in employments of much delicacy. "Do you 
come here to blackmail me, sir?" cried Mr. 
Thalberg, forcing himself to assume a voice and 
air of fury. There was never seen anything 
more innocent or more surprised and pained 
than the countenance of Callaghan as he replied. 
He was amazed that his motive could be so 
misunderstood ; it was the simple fact that what 
he was forced in his memoirs to relate might 
hereafter suggest suspicions of every one who 
was in the neighbourhood of the crime, himself 
and his friend Mr. Driver in particular, and, 
though in a less degree of course, Mr. Thalberg. 
He was giving Mr. Thalberg precisely the same 
opportunity as he had given to Mr. Driver, of 

14* 



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2ia TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

explaining those passages in his (Callaghan's) 
record, which might seem to him to require ex- 
planation. Here he appealed to me (and I 
confess I backed him up) as to whether he had 
not approached me in precisely the same way. 
Mr. Thalberg appeared to pass again under the 
spell of his eccentric visitor's childlike innocence, 
and sat patiently but with an air of increasing 
discomfort while Callaghan ran on : " You see, 
in your case, Mr. Thalberg, it's not only your 
presence at Long Wilton, which was for golf of 
course, wasn't it?— only you went away be- 
cause of the snow. There is that correspond- 
ence with a Dutch legal gentleman at Batavia 
which occurred a litde afterwards, or a litde 
before was it? And there were the messages 
which I think you sent (though perhaps that 
was not you) to Bagdad. Of course I shall 
easily understand if you do not care to en- 
lighten me for the purpose of my memoirs 
which no one may care to read. Pray tell me 
if it is so. I daresay it's enough for you that 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 213 

possible that Mr. Thalberg had not heard the 
news, which was already in two or three evening 
papers, that there was a warrant out for the 
arrest of Vane-Cartwright, and that it was 
rumoured that he had been arrested in an 
attempt to escape from the country. 

In Mr. Thalberg's countenance increased 
anguish now struggled ludicrously with the sus- 
picion, which even he could not wholly put 
aside, that he was being played upon in some 
monstrous way. He began some uncertain 
words and desisted, and looked to his clerk 
appealingly. That gentleman (not, I believe, 
the same that had fallen under the sway of 
Callaghan's faithful servant) seemed the incar- 
nation of the most solid respectability. He 
was, I should judge, of the age at which he 
might think of retiring upon a well-earned 
competence, and he gave Thalberg no help, 
desiring, I should think, to hear the fullest 
explanation of the startling and terrible hint 
which had been thrown out before him against 
his master's character. While Thalberg sat 
irresolute, Callaghan drew a bow at a venture. 



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214 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

interview with Dr. Verschoyle when you went 
to Homburg to see him," "Sir," said Thal- 
berg, making a final effort, "do you imagine 
that I shall tell you what passed at an interview 
to which I went upon my client's business." 
"Thank you, Mr. Thalberg," said Callaghan. 
"I am interested to know that you went to 
Homburg on your client's business (I thought 
it might have been for the gout), and that you 
did see Dr. Verschoyle, for I had not known 
that till you told me. I did know, however, 
about that correspondence with Madrid in the 
Spanish Consul's cipher, and I knew that the 
enquiries you made through him were really 
addressed to an influential person at Manilla." 

At this point Mr. Thalberg abruptly went 
over, with horse, foot and artillery, to the 
enemy. He assured Callaghan of his perfect 
readiness to answer fully any questions he might 
ask about his relations with Vane-Cartwright, 
and if he might he would tell him how they began. 

This is what it came to. Thalberg had been 
partner to a lawyer who was Longhurst's 
solicitor. In the early part of 1882, when 
Longhurst had spent a month in England, he 
had consulted Thalbergs partner about some 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 215 

matters that troubled him in regard to his 
partnership with Vane-Cartwright. Thalberg 
could not remember (so at least he said) the 
precise complaint which Longhurst had laid 
before his partner, except that it related to 
Vane-Cartwright's having got concessions and 
acquired property for himself which Longhurst 
considered (without foundation, as Thalberg 
supposed) should have belonged to the partner- 
ship. Nor did Thalberg know the advice 
which had been given Longhurst He had 
heard no more of him beyond the mere report 
that he had been drowned, till, after his death, 
Vane-Cartwright, whom Thalberg had not pre- 
viously known, came to London and employed 
the firm to find out various members of Long- 
hurst's family who were still living, and to whom 
he now behaved with great generosity. Since 
then Thalberg had been, as we knew, solicitor of 
a company which Vane-Cartwright had founded, 
and had occasionally done for him private law 
work of a quite unexciting nature. But in the 
middle of January of last year, 1896, Thalberg 
had been instructed by Vane-Cartwright to 
make for him with the utmost privacy certain 
enquiries. One was of a person in Bagdad, as 



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216 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

to the identity and previous history of a certain 
Mr. Bryanston; one concerned a certain Dr. 
Kuyper, a physician and scientist in Batavia, 
who, it was ascertained, was now dead. An- 
other was, as Callaghan knew, addressed to a 
correspondent in Madrid, but Thalberg declared 
that this enquiry went no further than to ascertain 
the name and address of the person who then 
filled the office of Public Prosecutor or, I think, 
Minister of Justice in the Philippines. I ventured 
to ask the name ; it was a name that I had seen 
before in those notes of Peters'. Lastly, there 
was an enquiry in regard to Dr. Verschoyle. 
Thalberg had been instructed if possible to 
obtain an interview with this gentleman before 
a certain date. The purpose of the interview, 
he declared, was to obtain from him some notes 
and journals which would be of use in the 
foundation of a new mission in the Philippines, 
under the auspices of the Society for the Pro- 
pagation of the Gospel, a project in which 
Vane-Cartwright appeared, he said, to be 
keenly interested (and indeed it was the fact 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 217 

repair there without fail by the date on which 
he actually came, and to inform Vane-Cart- 
wright by word of mouth of the result, if any, 
of his enquiries. That result had been, shortly : 
that Bryanston was the man who had at one 
time been at Nagasaki ; that Kuyper was dead ; 
that the Minister of Justice (or whatever the 
precise office was) at Manilla was the person 
already alluded to; and that Verschoyle was 
abroad and had lately been at Siena, but had 
departed abruptly some weeks before — for 
Germany, it was thought, but he had left no 
address behind him. All this Thalberg had 
duly reported to Vane-Cartwright in Peters' 
house the afternoon before the murder occurred. 
And what all this taught Vane-Cartwright, 
though in part obscure, is in part obvious. It 
taught him that no letter from Verschoyle to 
Peters need at present be expected. It taught 
him that a letter from Bryanston, which must 
be expected, might be dangerous and must be 
intercepted. It taught him that Peters would 
remain inactive only till that letter reached his 
hands. It taught him also that if Peters were 
put to silence, Kuyper, the other European who 
had seen that body in Sulu, could tell no tales. 



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218 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

After Peters' death, Thalberg, still acting 
under instructions, had had an interview with 
Dr. Verschoyle at Homburg, to which he had 
traced him, and had taken with him a letter 
written on the paper of the S.P.G., and signed, 
as he believed, by the secretary of that society. 
(It has since appeared that the secretary had no 
knowledge of such a letter.) Dr. Verschoyle 
delivered to him some journals which he, Thal- 
berg, never read, for transmission to Vane- 
Cartwright, to whom he duly delivered them. 
That, he said, was all that he knew of the 
subjects on which Callaghan sought information. 
He denied all knowledge of further communica- 
tions made on behalf of Vane-Cartwright with 
that important official in the Philippines ; but he 
appeared to me somewhat nervous in answering 
Callaghan's questions on this matter, and anxious 
to appease him with the prospect that he might 
be able, through friends of his, to ascertain what 
communications of this nature had actually 
taken place. 

It was curious to how many questions sug- 
gested to us by what he had said he could give 
no answer. Indeed he informed us, with an air 
of moral self-complacency, that he thought it 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 219 

a very sound maxim for a professional man to 
know as little as possible of things which it was 
not his business to know. I guessed that per- 
haps his strict observance of this precept was 
the thing which had commended him to the 
service of Vane-Cartwright, but I really do 
believe that Mr. Thalberg knew nothing behind 
the facts which he now thought it convenient to 
himself to reveal. 

However that may be, he made no secret of 
anything which he could disclose without injury 
to himself. We had got from him, or I ought 
to say Callaghan had got from him, evidence 
which might serve to show plainly enough that 
Vane-Cartwright was aware of Peters' suspicions 
and concerned himself greatly about them, and, 
content with this, we were preparing to go when 
Mr. Thalberg stopped us saying that there was 
one important matter of which we had not asked 
him yet, and perhaps should be surprised to know 
that he could tell us anything. I have omitted 
to say that in the course of the conversation he 
had heard something from us about the things 
which had led to Vane-Cartwright's being sus- 
pected. We had told him in substance the 
story about the tracks, and were much surprised 



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220 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

to find that he appeared wholly ignorant of the 
charge that had been brought against Trethewy. 
He now told us a fact which had a great bearing 
upon the history of those tracks. He asked us 
whether or not Peters' grounds could be seen 
from the upper rooms of the hotel. I said that 
no doubt they could, for the hotel was only too 
visible from those grounds. He then stated 
that having confined himself to his bedroom 
until it was time for him to start for his train, 
he had at a certain hour noticed a man walking 
across Peters' field (for from his description it 
was plain to me that it was Peters' field, and 
plain further that the man was walking pretty 
much where those tracks were made). This 
man, even at that distance, he recognised as 
Vane-Cartwright ; he recognised him by his fur 
coat and a cap which Ellen Trethewy had seen 
him in, and by some peculiarity about his gait 
which he knew well. The man was also swing- 
ing his stick in Vane-Cartwright's own particular 



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CHAPTER XXI, 

As we left Thalberg's office and walked down 
the narrow court which led to the street, I dare- 
say our looks and voices, if not our words, 
betrayed the exultation of men who see a long- 
sought object at last within reach. As we 
turned into the street we were stopped by 
Vane-Cartwright 

Only the day before I had been expecting to 
find him lurking for me round every corner; 
but now and here it startled me to meet him. 
When I learnt why he met us, it startled me 
still more, and looking back upon it, I still find 
it unaccountable. 

"Mr. Driver, Mr. Callaghan," he said, ad- 
dressing us in turn in tones as quiet as ever, 



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222 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

constable. There is one. You see you have 
beaten me. You probably do not yet know it 
yourselves, but you have," 

" Well," he continued, " if you do not quite 
know what you are going to do, I will ask one 
thing of you. Before you give me up to justice, 
take me somewhere where I can talk with you 
two alone. I want to tell you my story. It 
will not make you alter your purpose, I know 
that ; but it will make you respect me a little 
more than you do. It is odd that I should 
want that, but I do." 

"Well, gentlemen?" he said questioningly, 
as we still hesitated, and his old self-possession 
returning for a moment, a smile of positive 
amusement came over his face. 

I confess that if I had acted on my own 
impulse I should have taken my antagonist at 
his word when he suggested that we should call 
the nearest policeman. But Callaghan had been 
taking the lead in our late movements, and I felt 
that the occasion belonged to Callaghan; and 
Callaghan was more generous. 

"If you have anything to say, sir," he said, 
"come to my chambers and say it Four- 
wheeler ! " 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 223 

In a moment more we were in a cab— -how 
slow the cab seemed — Callaghan sitting opposite 
Vane-Cartwright and watching him narrowly lest 
he should play us a trick, while I too watched 
him all through the interminable drive, very 
ill at ease as to the wisdom of our conduct, and 
wondering what could be the meaning of the 
unexpected and desperate hazard which our 
antagonist was now taking. He was evidently 
going to confess to us. But why? If the 
knowledge we already possessed was sufficient, 
as perhaps it was, to secure his conviction, yet 
he could only partly guess what that knowledge 
was ; of the two most telling pieces of evidence 
against him, the fact about the window-latch 
which the surgeon had told us, and the fact 
that Thalberg had recognised him afar from 
his window in the hotel, he must have been 
quite unaware. And then what did he expect 
to gain by the interview which he had sought 
with us? What opinion had he formed of the 
mental weaknesses of the two men with whom 
he was playing? Was he relying overmuch 
upon the skill and mastery of himself and 
others which he would bring to bear in this 
strange interview? Had the fearful strain 



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224 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

under which he had been living of late taken 
away the coolness and acuteness of his judg- 
ment? Could he rely so much upon the 
chance of enlisting our compassion that he 
could afford to give us a certainty of his 
guilt, which, for all he knew, we had not got 
before, and to throw away the hope of making 
an escape by flight, which with a man of his 
resource might easily have been successful? 
Or had he some other far more sinister hope 
than that of stirring us to unworthy pity or 
generosity? I could not resolve these ques- 
tions, but I was inclined to an explanation 
which he was himself about to give us. If the 
cause of suspicion against him became public 
he would have lost everything for which he 
greatly cared, and he was ready to risk all 
upon any chance, however faint, of avoiding 
this. I was, as I have said, ill at ease about 
k all. I did not feel that after the conversation 
I had held with him before, Vane-Cartwright 
would get over me, but it is an experience 
which one would do much to avoid, that of 
listening obdurate to an appeal into which 
another man puts his whole heart; and more 
especially would one wish to have avoided 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 225 

consenting to hear that appeal in a manner 
which might raise false hopes. But for a 
more serious reason it had been a mistake to 
acquiesce in this interview; I had learned to 
know not only Callaghan's goodness of heart 
but his cleverness and his promptitude, but I 
had not learned to credit him with wisdom or 
with firmness ; and the sort of impulsiveness, 
which had made him at once grant the re- 
quest for this interview, might easily have 
further and graver consequences. 

At last we were in Callaghan's room anci 
seated ourselves round a table. 

" 1 see," said Vane-Cartwright, "that it 
puzzles you gentlemen why I should ask for 
this interview. You think I am an ordinary 
criminal, which perhaps I am, and you thought 
that like an ordinary criminal I should try all 
means to save a disgraced life, which I certainly 
shall not do. I know that you have not got the 
knowledge which would convict me of murder. 
I do not suppose you think you have, and in 
any case you have not. And, if you had, I 
think you know I have contrivance enough to 
take myself off and live comfortably out of 
reach of the law. But I do not care for 

15 



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226 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

escape, and I do not care for acquittal. You 
have the means to throw suspicion on me, and 
that is enough for me. I cared for honour and 
success, and I do not care for life when they 
are lost" He was looking at each of us alter- 
nately with an inscrutable but quite unflinching 
gaze, but he now hid his eyes, and he added 
as if with difficulty, "Yet I did care for one 
other thing besides my position in the world, 
but that has gone from me too. 

" And now," he resumed, " that my struggle 
is over, and that the people — more people and 
bigger people than you would think — who have 
been courting me for the last twelve months 
will think of me only with as just abhorrence 
as Thalberg himself does, I have an odd fancy, 
and it is this: I should like to stand a little 
better in the eyes of the very men who, far 
from courting me, have had the courage to 
suspect me and the tenacity to drag me down." 
He had raised his eyes again, but this time 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 227 

me tell you just a little more of it, and, please, 
if it interests you enough, question me on any 
point you will. I shall not shrink from answer- 
ing. If a man is known to have murdered two 
of his friends, there cannot be much left that 
it is worth his while to conceal. First, I would 
like to speak of my early training. If I had 
been brought up in the gutter, you could make 
some allowance for that, and give me some 
credit for any good qualities I had shown, 
however cheerfully you might see me hanged 
for my crimes. It is not usual to suppose that 
any such allowance may have to be made for 
a man brought up to luxury and to every sort 
of refinement, and yet such a man too may be 
the victim of influences which would kill the 
good in most characters even more than they 
have in mine. You may have heard a little 
about my people, and perhaps know that their 
views and ways were not quite usual ; I am 
not going to say one word against them (I 
am not that sort of man, whatever I may be), 

I—.*. «.t- s. ~ At-! • 1 l-~~J 



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228 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

the expectation of really great wealth, and just 
when I was grown up the wealth and the ex- 
pectations suddenly vanished That has hap- 
pened to many men who have been none the 
worse for it But then I was brought up soft 
You know I am not a limp man or a coward ; 
but I had all the bringing up of one ; cared 
for hand and foot, never doing a thing for my- 
self (my good people had great ideas of repub- 
lican simplicity, but they were only literary 
ideas). None of the games, none of the sport 
that other boys get ; no rubbing shoulders with 
my equals at school ; no comradeship but only 
the company of my elders, mostly invalids. 
Few people know what it is to be brought up 
soft But there was worse than that. You" 
(he was addressing Callaghan) "were piously 
brought up. Oh, yes, you were really. I dare- 
say your home was not a strict one, and you 
were not carefully taught precepts of religion 
and morality or carefully shielded from the 
sight of evil (perhaps quite the contrary, for I 
have not the pleasure of knowing much about 
you, Mr. Callaghan), but I am quite sure that 
you had about you at home or at school, or 
both, people among whom there was some 



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tacit recognition of right and wrong of some 
sort as things incontrovertible, and that there 
was some influence in your childhood which 
appealed to the heart. But in my childhood 
nothing appealed to the heart, nothing was 
incontrovertible, above all, nothing was tacit. 
Everlasting discussion, reaching back to the 
first principles of the universe, and branching 
out into such questions as whether children 
should be allowed pop-guns. That was my 
moral training, and that was all my moral 
training. It was very sound in principle, I 
daresay — and I am not going to pose as an 
interesting convert to the religious way of look- 
ing at things, for I am not one — but it did not 
take account of practical difficulties, and it was 
very, very hard on me. Not one man in ten 
thousand has had that sort of upbringing, and 
I do not suppose you can realise in the least 
how hard that sort of thing is. 

44 So," he continued, 4< I found myself at twenty- 
one suddenly made poor ; more accustomed than 
most lads to think life only worth living for re- 
finements which are for the wealthy only ; taught 
not to take traditional canons of morality for 
granted ; taught to think about the real utility 



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of every action ; landed in a place like Saigon, 
and thrown in the society of the sort of gentry 
who, we all know, do represent European civ- 
ilisation in such places; sent there to get a 
living ; thoroughly out of sympathy with all 
the tastes and pleasures of the people round 
me, and at the same time easily able to dis- 
cover that for all my strange upbringing I was 
by nature more of a man than any one else there. 
As a matter of fact, there was only one decent 
man there with intellectual tastes, and that was 
Peters ; but Peters, who was only two or three 
years older than I, and, as I own I fancied, 
nothing like so clever, took me under his pro- 
tection and made it his mission to correct me, 
and it did not do. You can easily imagine 
how, in the three years before Longhurst came 
on the scene, I had got to hate the prospect 
of a life of humdrum, money-grubbing among 
those people in the hope of retiring with a 



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three weeks in the place to make money on 
a scale which would give me the position, the 
society and the pursuits for which I had been 
trained. I resolved in fact to make the sort of 
place for myself in the world which every man, 
except the three men in this room and Thalberg, 
thinks I have secured. If I had no scruples as 
to the way in which I should carry out that re- 
solve, I differed from the people around me only 
in knowing that I had no scruples, and in having 
instead a set purpose which I was man enough 
to pursue through life. And I am man enough, 
I hope, not to care much for life now that that 
purpose has failed. If I pursued my end with- 
out scruple, I think I was carrying out to its 
logical conclusion the principles that had been 
taught me as a boy ; and, as I am not going to 
seek your sympathy on false pretences, let me 
tell you I do not know to-day that there are 
any better principles — there may be; I hope 
there are. 

" I waited nearly three years, learning all I 



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I must go back a little. I have said that Peters 
was my only equal in our society there. Now 
let me say, once for all, that in nothing that I 
am going to tell you do I wish to blame Peters 
more than I blame myself; but from the first 
we did not hit it off. Peters, as I have said, 
took on himself the part of my protector and 
adviser a little too obviously ; he had not quite 
tact enough to do it well, and I was foolish 
enough in those days to resent what I thought 
his patronage. At first there was no harm 
done ; Peters thought I should be the better if I 
entered more into such sport as there was in the 
place, for which I had very little taste, and he 
tried to make me do so by chaffing me about 
being a duffer, in his blunt way, which I thought 
rude, and that before other people. You would 
hardly imagine that I was ever shy, but I was ; 
and, absurd as it seems, this added a good deal 
to my un happiness in my new surroundings. I 
should very soon have got over that, for I soon 



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TRACES IN THE SNOW 233 

not agree, and I daresay now that I pained him 
a good deal. I did not mean to do that, but I 
did mean to shock him sometimes, and so I 
often took a cynical line, by which I meant 
nothing at all, telling him the sharp things that 
I should do if I got the chance ; and once or 
twice I was fool enough to pretend that all sorts 
of things of which Peters would not approve 
went on in our business. To my amazement I 
discovered after a time that Peters took all this 
nonsense seriously. I would have given any- 
thing to efface the impression that I had made, 
for though there are few men that I ever re- 
spected,, Peters was one of them. But Peters 
became reserved towards me and impossible to 
get at Then gossip came in between us. There 
is sometimes very spiteful gossip in a little 
European settlement in the East; and I am 
certain, though I cannot prove it, that a man 
there, with whom I had constant business, told 
Peters a story about a shady transaction which 
he said I was in. The transaction was real 
enough, but neither I nor my firm had any 
more to do with it than you. I know that this 
man told it to other people, for I have heard so 
from them, and I do not doubt that that was 



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what finally turned Peters against me. I tried 
to tax Peters with having picked up this story, 
but he said something which sounded like dis- 
believing me, and I lost my temper and broke 
off; and from that day till we met again at 
Long Wilton we never exchanged any more 
words together, though we crossed one another's 
path as you shall hear. 

" Mind, again, I am not saying it was his fault ; 
but it is in itself doing a young man a very ill 
turn to show him that you think him dishonest 
when as yet he is not, and it did me harm. 
Upon my soul, I was honest then ; in fact, in that 
regard, most of my dealings throughout life 
would stand a pretty close scrutiny. But I 
have often thought that I might have become 
a much better man if Peters would have been 
my friend instead of suspecting me unjustly; 
and I confess that it rankles to this day, and all 
the more because I always respected Peters. 
After that, however, he did me some practical 
ill turns, disastrously ill turns ; rightly enough, if 
he thought as he did. I must tell you that our 
separation came a very little while before Long- 
hurst came to the place. Just afterwards I had 
an opening, a splendid opening; it would not 



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have made me the rich man that I am, but it 
would have given me a good position right 
away, arid what it would have saved me you 
shall judge. A very eminent person came to 
Saigon ; he knew something of Peters and a little 
of me. He saw a great deal of Peters at 
Saigon, and he pressed him to accept a post 
that was in his gift in the Chinese Customs 
service. Peters refused. I suppose he was at 
that time thinking of coming home. The great 
man then spoke to me about it, and had all but 
offered it to me. How I should have jumped 
at it ! But suddenly it all went off and he said 
no more to me. I believed that Petfers warned 
him against me; possibly, being sore against 
Peters, I was mistaken ; but at any rate that was 
what I ever afterwards believed. It was partly 
in desperate annoyance about this that I plunged 
into what then seemed my wild venture with 
Longhurst 

" And now I must tell you about Longhurst. 
He had been at some time, I suppose, a clever 
man ; at least he had a wonderful store of prac- 
tical knowledge about forests, mining and other 
matters, and he had travelled a great deal in all 
parts of that region of the world, and picked up 



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236 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

many things which he wanted to turn to account 
He had made a little money which he wished to 
increase, and he had a great scheme of organis- 
ing and developing the trade of South- Eastern 
Asia and its islands in various valuable kinds 
of timber, spices, gum, shellac, etc., etc. He 
promised any one who could join him that in a 
few years, by exploiting certain yet undeveloped 
but most profitable sources of supply, he could 
get a monopoly of several important trades, the 
sago trade, for example. He set forth his scheme 
to the company generally at the English Club 
the first time I met him, and everybody laughed 
at him except me, who saw that if he got into 
the right hands there was something to be made 
out of his discoveries for him and other people. 
And as a matter of fact we did make something 
of them, more than I expected, but not what he 
expected. I did not make a large sum out of 
our joint venture, not much more than I could 
have made by staying where I was, but I got 
the knowledge of Eastern commerce, which has 
enabled me since to do what I have done. 

" I saw you smile just now, Mr. Callaghan, 
when I spoke of Longhurst getting into the 
right hands. Well he did ; and I did not He 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 237 

had been, as I said, a clever man, and there was 
something taking about him with his bluff, 
frank, burly air, but he was going off when I 
met him. People do go downhill if they spend 
all their lives in odd corners of the earth ; and, 
though I did not know it at first, he had taken 
the surest road downhill, for he had begun to 
drink, and very soon it gained upon him like 
wildfire. When he once goes wrong no one 
can be so wrong-headed as a man like that, who 
thinks that he knows the world from having 
knocked about it a great deal doing nothing 
settled; and I should have found Longhurst 
difficult to deal with in any case. As it was, 
Longhurst dined with Peters the night before 
we left Saigon together. On the first day of 
our voyage he was very surly to me, and he 
said, * I heard something funny about you last 
night, Master Cartwright I wish I had heard 
it before, that's all/ When I fired up and told 
him to say straight out what it was, he looked 
at me offensively, and went off into the smoking- 



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338 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

tale-bearer that I mentioned before had been 
telling Peters some yarn about my arrangements 
with Longhurst, which looked as if I was trying 
to swindle him, and that Peters had passed it 
on. I very soon found that Longhurst was not so 
simple as he seemed I daresay he had meant 
honestly enough by me at first, but having 
got it into his thick head that I was a little 
too sharp, he made up his mind to be the sharper 
of the two ; and the result was that if I was to 
be safe in dealing with him I must take care to 
keep the upper hand of him, and before long I 
made up my mind that my partner should go 
out of the firm. I could have made his fortune 
if he would have let me, but I meant that the 
concern should be mine and not his, and I did 
not disguise it from him. That was my great 
mistake. I do not know what story, if any, you 
have picked up about my dealings with Long- 
hurst. He put about many stories when we 
had begun to quarrel — for he had begun by 
that time, if not before, to drink freely — but the 
matter that we finally quarrelled about was this. 
Of the various concessions which we started by 
obtaining (at least I started by obtaining them ; 
that was to be my great contribution to the 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 239 

partnership), two only proved of very great 
importance — one was from the Spanish Govern- 
ment of the Philippines and the other from the 
Government of Anam, and these, as it happened, 
were for three and four years, renewable under 
certain conditions but also revocable earlier in 
certain events. There was no trickery about 
that, though Longhurst may have thought there 
was. I simply could not get larger concessions 
with the means of persuasion (bribery, in other 
words) at our command. Subsequently I got 
renewals and extensions of these concessions to 
myself alone. To the best of my belief then 
and now the transaction held water in law and in 
equity, but whatever a lawyer might think of 
it, the common-sense was this : Longhurst had 
become so reckless and so muddle-headed that 
nothing could any longer prosper under his 
control, if he had the control, and besides that, 
I never could have got the extended concessions 
at all if he was to be one of the concessionaires. 
There are some things which an Eastern Gov- 
ernment or a Spanish Government cannot stand, 
and Longhurst's treatment of the natives was 
one of them. But I must go back a bit. There 
were other things besides this which contributed 



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240 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

to our quarrel. For one thing, odd as it may 
sound in speaking of two grown-up men, Long- 
hurst bullied me — physically bullied me. He 
was a very powerful man, more so, I should 
think, even than you, Mr. Callaghan, and when, 
as often happened, we were travelling alone 
together, he used to insist on my doing as he 
liked in small arrangements, by the positive 
threat of violence. To do him justice he did 
not do it when he was sober, and though in 
those days I was a weakly and timid man com- 
pared to what I have become, I soon learned 
how to stop it altogether. But you can easily 
imagine that I did not love him ; and a bitter 
feeling towards his chief companion is not a 
wholesome thing for a man to carry about 
through a year or two of hard work in that 
climate (for it is a climate! none of the dry 
heat and bracing winters you have in Northern 
India) ; still I hope I did not bear him malice 
so much for that as for other things. I have 
said I have no scruples, but I have no liking 



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among weak savages, where law and order 
had not come, to put up with seeing deeds 
done which people here at home would not 
believe were done by their countrymen, and 
which a man who has served his days in an 
honourable service like the Indian Civil could 
believe in least of all. He had kicked a wretched 
man to death (for I have no doubt he died of it) 
the day he died himself. 

" But why do I make all these excuses? for, 
after all, what did I do that needs so much 
excuse? I told Longhurst plainly what I had 
done about the concessions and what I proposed 
to do for him, and he seemed to fall in with it 
all, and then he went home for a month's holiday 
in England. I suppose he saw some lawyer, 
probably Thalberg, and got it into his head that 
he could make out a case of fraud against me. 
At any rate, when he returned, he seemed surly ; 
he did not have it out with me straight, but he 
began to make extravagant demands of me and 
threaten me vaguely with some exposure if I 
did not give in to them, which of course I did 
not. Then he quarrelled about it in his cups, 
for the cups were getting more and more fre- 
quent, and several times over he got so violent 



16 



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242 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

as to put me in actual fear of my life. And at 
last, unhappily for him, it came to a real en- 
counter. We had visited the island of Sulu, 
where I had reason to think we might establish 
a branch of our business, and after two or three 
days in an inland town we were returning to the 
coast, expecting to be picked up by a Chinese 
junk which was to take us back. The evening 
before we started down he produced a packet 
of documents and brandished it at me as if it 
contained something very damaging to me, and 
I could see plainly (for I have an eye for hand- 
writing) that on the top of it was an envelope 
addressed by Peters. I am not justified in 
inferring from this that Peters — who had seen 
Longhurst several times since he had seen me 
— had again been repeating to him some mali- 
cious falsehood with which he had been stuffed 
before he left Saigon ; but can you wonder that 
I did infer it ? On the march down — when we 
were alone, for we had sent on our servants 
before — Longhurst began again more savagely 
than ever, and for about an hour he heaped all 
sorts of charges and vile insinuations upon me, 
which I answered for a while as patiently as I 
could. At last, breaking off in the middle of a 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 243 

curse, he fell into silence. He strode on angrily 
ahead for a hundred yards or so. Then at a 
rocky part of the path, where I was below him, 
he turned suddenly. He hurled at me a great 
stone which narrowly missed me, and then he 
came rushing and clambering back down the 
path at me. I fired (he turned as I fired). 
That was the end. Was it murder?" He 
paused and then braced himself up as he an- 
swered his own question. "Yes, it was, be- 
cause I was angry, not afraid, and because I 
could easily have run away, only for some 
reason I did not mean to. 

" But I am foolish to weary you with all this 
long preliminary story, for, after all, what do 
you care about Longhurst; it is Peters, your 
own friend, about whom you care. You think 
that he came to suspect me of murdering Long- 
hurst, and I killed him for that ; but as sure as I 
killed him, that was not — that was not what made 
me do it." 

Vane-Cartwright sat for a long time with his 
face covered with his hands. At last he sat 



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244 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

nothing? I did know of it, and I honoured 
him for it, but I hated him for it too. Certainly 
you did not suspect that there was a romance 
in mine- It does not seem likely that a great 
passion should come to a calculating man like 
me, with the principles of conduct of which I 
have made no secret to-day. But such things 
do happen, and a great passion came late in 
life to me. And here is the cruel thing, which 
almost breaks my philosophy down, and makes 
me think that after all there is a curse upon 
crime. It ought to have enriched and ennobled 
my life, ought it not? It came at just the 
moment, in just the shape, and with all the 
attendant accidents to ruin me. ' 

14 It began five years ago. Miss Denison and 
her parents were staying at Pau. I was in the 
same hotel and I met them. I knew nothing 
then of their position and wealth and all that, for 
I had not been long in London. I loved her, 
and a great hope came into my life. One begins 
to weary after a while of toiling just to make 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 245 

acceptable. I could not imagine the reason. I 
asked for an interview to explain matters, and 
he refused it I left at once. I did not yet 
know how hard I should find it to give her up. 
It was only as I left the hotel that I learned 
that Peters, Peters whom I had not met since 
we quarrelled at Saigon, and of whom I last 
heard of the day that Longhurst died, was in the 
hotel and had called on my friends. Now I see 
clearly that I am wrong to draw inferences, but 
again, I ask, could I help inferring what I did ? 
" More than four years passed. I tried hard to 
create new interests for myself in artistic things, 
making all sorts of collections ; and I developed 
an ambition to be a personage in London society. 
Then I saw Miss Denison again, and I knew 
that I had not forgotten her, and could not do so. 
I knew now what had happened, and so I abso- 
lutely insisted on an explanation. I had it out 
with the father. I satisfied him absolutely. In 
a few weeks' time I was engaged. For the first 
time in my life I was happy. That was only 
a month before I came to Long Wilton. I must 
tell you that Peters had known the Denisons 
long, and that I knew Miss Denison had been 
fond of him, but we naturally did not talk of 



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him much, and I did-not know he was at Long 
Wilton. There, to my complete surprise, I saw 
Peters again. I would not avoid him, but I 
certainly did not wish to meet him. He, how- 
ever, came up to me and spoke quite cordially. 
I do not know whether he had reflected and 
thought he had been hard on me, but he seemed 
to wish to make amends, and I at that time, just 
for a few short hours, had not got it in my heart 
to be other than friendly with any man. 

"That evening I spent at his house. You, 
Mr. Callaghan, were there, and you must have 
seen that something happened. I at any rate 
saw that something I said had revived all 
Peters' suspicions of me, and this time with 
the addition of a suspicion, which was true, that 
I had murdered Longhurst. 

" Now, I ask you, if you have any lingering 
idea that that was why I killed him, how was 
it possible that he could ever prove me guilty ? 
Have you any inkling of how he could have done 
it ? I have not. Now what could induce me, on 
account of a mere idle suspicion on the part 
of a man who need be nothing to me, to run 
the risk amounting almost to certainty of being 
hanged for murdering him ? 



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" But my conscience was active then, for a 
reason which any man who has loved may guess. 
I wanted to clear up all with Peters. I could 
not get him alone that evening, and I had to 
go next day. I returned the first day I could, 
bringing certain materials for clearing up the 
early transaction about which he had first sus- 
pected me. I was honestly determined to make 
a clean breast to him about Longhurst You 
can hardly wonder that I meant to feel my way 
with him in this. I tried to get to close quarters 
with him. Mr. Callaghan saw enough to know 
how unsuccessful I was. I tried all the time, 
again and again, to draw Peters into intimate 
talk about our days in the East, but he always 
seemed to push me away. I determined very 
soon to obtain a letter from a friend, whom I 
will not name now, who knew how Longhurst 
had treated me, which I could show to Peters ; 
so I wrote to him. But in the meantime rela- 
tions with Peters grew harder and harder. I 
will not spin out excuses, but all his old ani- 
mosity to me returned, and I began while I was 
waiting for that letter to feel once again the old 



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248 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

confidence, he could have made a better man of 
me ; he had spoilt my best chance of a career ; 
he had poisoned my relations with Longhurst, 
and so brought about the very crime of which 
he was now lying in wait to accuse me ; he had 
thwarted my love for four miserable years. On 
the top of all that came this letter " (he had held 
a letter in his hand all the time he was speak- 
ing), " and it shall speak for itself. But first one 
question. You may remember when you first 
saw me at Long Wiltoa Well, I came really as 
it happened upon an errand for Miss Denison. 
Mrs. Nicholas, in the village, you may not know, 
had been her nurse. But that does not matter* 
Between my first visit and my return, do you 
happen to remember that a Mrs. Bulteel wfs 
staying at the hotel, and visited Mr. Peters of 
whom she was an old friend ? " 

Callaghan remembered that it was so. 

"Mrs. Bulteel is, I have always supposed, 
the lady referred to in this letter, which reached 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 249 

Denison, the young lady's mother. It appeared 
to be written in great agitation. Its purport was 
that the young lady had resolved, so her mother 
found, to break off her engagement with Vane- 
Cartwright. She had formerly loved another 
man, whose name the mother thought she must 
not mention, though probably Vane-Cartwright 
knew it, but had supposed that he did not care 
for her or had given up doing so. She had now 
learned from an officious lady friend, who had 
lately seen this old lover, that he cared for her 
still; that he had concealed his passion when 
he found she favoured Vane-Cartwright, but 
that having now apparently quarrelled with 
Vane-Cartwright he had authorised her to let 
this be known if she saw her opportunity. The 
mother concluded by saying that she had so far 
failed in reasoning with her daughter, who had 
wished to write and break off her engagement, 
and all she could do was to lay on her the abso- 
lute command not to write to Vane-Cartwright 
at all for the present 



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250 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

you, better than her mother did, and knew that 
if her old attachment had returned it had re- 
turned to stay. Besides, I read this letter with 
my rival sitting in the room (you two gentlemen 
were sitting in the room too as it happens), and 
when hard, self-contained people do come under 
these influences, they do not give way to them 
by halves. 

"Thank you," said Vane-Cartwright, when 
we had read and returned the letter. "I am 
glad you have heard me so patiently. That all 
this makes me less of a villain than you thought 
me, I do not pretend to say ; but I think you 
will understand why I wished some men whom 
I respected, as I respect you, to know my story. 
I do not suggest for a moment that it should 
influence your present action. Here I am, as 
I said to begin with, your prisoner. Of course 
you see that society is just as safe from future 
murders from me as from any man. But if 
your principles of justice demand life for life, or 
if human feeling makes you resolve to avenge 
your friend, that is just what I came here ex- 
pecting. I am the last man in the world who 
could give an unprejudiced opinion on the ethics 
of punishment" 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 251 

He ended with a quiet and by no means dis- 
agreeable smile. 

As I have often said I make no sort of pre- 
tence to report any talk quite correctly, and here, 
where the manner of the talk is of special im- 
portance, I feel more than ever my incompetence 
to report it. I can only say that the singular 
confession, of which I have striven to repeat the 
purport, was in reality delivered with a great 
deal of restrained eloquence, and with occasional 
most moving play of facial expression, all the 
more striking in a man whom I had seldom 
before seen to move a muscle of his face un- 
necessarily. It was delivered to two men of 
whom one (myself) was physically overwrought, 
while the other (Callaghan), naturally emotional, 
was at the commencement in the fullest elation 
of triumphant pursuit, in other words, ready to 
recoil violently. 

We sat, I do not know how long, each wait- 
ing for the other to speak. Vane-Cartwright 
sat meanwhile neither looking at us nor moving 
his countenance — only the fingers of one hand 
kept drumming gently upon his knee. 



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252 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

to speak words which my mouth seemed to utter 
mechanically. If they were the words of reason, 
they were not the words of my conscious thought, 
for that was busy with all, and more than all the 
scruples which had ever made this business hard 
to me. 

il Mr. Vane-Cartwright," I said, u it is my 
painful duty to tell you at once that I do not 
believe one word you have said, except what 
I knew already." 

He went white for a moment ; then quickly 
recomposed himself and inclined his head slighdy 
with a politely disdainful expression. 

"Oh, Driver/' said Callaghan, in a gentle 
tone, and he arose and paced the room. He 
was strangely moved. To begin with, though 
he had felt nothing but remorseless glee in his 
share in hunting his victim down, he would in 
any case have felt great repugnance at giving 
him the coup degrdce. But then he had once 
taken the step of inviting that victim into his 
own room ; he had sat there for an hour and 
a half with that victim by his own fireside, 
telling his life-story and implicitly pleading for 
his life. And the pleading had been conducted 
under the flattering pretext that it was not 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 253 

pleading at all but the instinctive confidence 
of a redoubtable antagonist, in one whom he 
respected for having beaten him. As for the 
story itself, Callaghan did not exactly believe it ; 
on the contrary, I found afterwards that, while 
I had not got beyond a vague sense that the 
whole story was a tissue of lies, he had noted 
with rapid acuteness each of the numerous 
points of improbability in it; but to his mind 
(Irish, if I may say publicly what I have said 
to him) the fact that the story appealed to his 
imaginative sympathy was almost as good as 
its being true, and what in respect of credibility 
was wanting to its effect was quite made good 
by Callaghan's admiration for the intrepidity 
with which the man had carried out this 
attempt on us. And the story did appeal to 
his sympathy, he had sympathised with his 
early struggles, he had sympathised still more 
with the suggestion of passion in his final crime, 
and (Irish again) had ignored the fact that on 
the criminal's own showing the crime conceived 
in passion had been carried through with a cold- 
blooded meanness of which Callaghan's own 
nature had no trace. Lastly, he was genuinely 
puzzled by the problem as to the morality of 



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254 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

vengeance which Vane-Cartwright had raised 
with so dexterously slight a touch. 

Whatever his motive, Callaghan was upon 
the point of resolving that, at least from his 
own room, where the criminal had come to 
appeal to his mercy, that criminal should go 
away free. And if Callaghan had so resolved 
I should have been powerless for a time ; he was 
prepared and I was not as to the steps immedi- 
ately to be taken to secure Vane-Cartwright's 
arrest But it seems, if for once I may use that 
phrase with so little or else so deep a meaning, 
that the luck had departed from Vane-Cart- 
wright, At this crisis of his fate a device of 
his own recoiled upon him with terrible force. 

" I cannot do it ! I cannot do it ! " Callaghan 
was exclaiming, when the door opened and a 
telegram was brought for me. This was the 
message: "Clarissa terribly ill, symptoms 
poison, Bancroft, Fidele'L It meant that my 
wife was dying at the friend's villa to which she 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 255 

hand. He knew enough to understand the 
message well. He read it with an altered face. 
He passed it to Vane-Cartwright and said : 
" Read that, and take it for my answer ". I 
should doubt if Vane-Cartwright had often 
been violently angry, but he was now. He 
dashed the telegram down with a curse. " The 
fool/' he said, and he gasped with passion, " if 
he was going to try that trick, why did not he 
do it before?" Callaghan stepped up to me, 
put his big arms round me, and for a moment 
hugged me in them, with tears in his eyes. 
Then without a word he strode across the room, 
and, before I could see what was happening, 
Vane-Cartwright's hands were tied behind his 
back with a great silk handkerchief. 



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CHAPTER XXII. 

My story draws towards its close, and of mystery 
or of sudden peril it has little more to tell. Upon 
one point, the most vital to me, let me not give 
the reader a moment's suspense. My wife 
did not die of poison, had not been poisoned, 
had not been ill, had not sent that telegram. 
What had happened was this: on one single 
occasion she had not despatched her own mes- 
sage herself; through the misunderstanding or 
too prompt courtesy of her host's butler, the 
telegram which she had written had been taken 
by a messenger, and it had fallen into the 
hands of the enemy's watchful emissary. It 
had revealed to him the password which my 
wife used to me; and in its place there had 
gone over the wires a message which would 
indeed have called me back at any stage of the 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 257 

I say not later, for indeed I have evidence 
strong enough for my now suspicious mind that 
Vane-Cartwright had endeavoured to prepare 
his escape in the event of his failure to persuade 
Callaghan and myself. An unoccupied flat 
immediately below Callaghan's had the day 
before been engaged by a nameless man, who 
paid a quarter's rent in advance, and on the day 
of his interview with us, several strange persons, 
who were never seen there again, arrived with 
every sign of belated haste ; but, whatever ac- 
cident had delayed them, they arrived a quarter 
of an hour after we had left 

And so on the 15th of May, 1897, nearly 
sixteen months after Peters' death, his murderer 
was handed over to the police, with information 
which, including as it did the fact of his confes- 
sion, ensured their taking him into custody. 

Then I, in my turn, became Callaghan's 
prisoner. I arrived at Charing Cross station in 
good time for the night train, and found my 
luffgagre already there and registered, and mv 



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258 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

staying. One item remains untold to complete 
for the present the account of the debt which I 
owe him. We had hardly left Charing Cross 
when his quick wits arrived at precisely that 
explanation of the telegram which in happy fact 
was true ; but all the way, talkative man though 
he was, he refrained from vexing my bruised 
mind with a hope which, he knew, I should not 
be able to trust 

When he had learnt at the door that his happy 
foreboding was true, no entreaty would induce 
him to stay and break bread. He returned at 
once to England, leaving me to enter alone to that 
reunion of which I need say nothing, nor even 
tell how much two people had hungered for it. 

The reader who is curious in such matters 
might almost reconstruct for himself (in spite of 
the newspaper reports which naturally are mis- 
leading) the trial of William Vane-Cartwright 
He might pick out from these pages the facts 
capable of legal proof, which, once proved and 
once marshalled into their places, could leave 
no reasonable doubt of the prisoner's guilt. 

But, however late, the trained intelligence of 
the police had now been applied to the matter, 
and the case wore an altered aspect No start- 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 259 

ling discovery had come to pass, only the revela- 
tion of the obvious. Some points had been 
ascertained which ought to have been ascer- 
tained long before ; still more, facts long known 
had been digested, as, surely, it should have 
been somebody's business to digest them from 
the first. In particular, tardy attention had 
been paid to the report of the young constable 
who, as I mentioned, followed Sergeant Speke 
into Peters' room, and who had incurred some 
blame because his apparent slowness had allowed 
some trespassers to come and make footprints 
on the lawn (I fancy his notes had been over- 
looked when some officer in charge of the case 
had been superseded by another). The ob- 
served movements, just after the crime, of two 
or three people who were about the scene, had 
been set down in order. Enquiries, such as 
only authority could make, had ultimately been 
made among Vane-Cartwright's acquaintance in 
the East, and though disappointing in the main, 
they yielded one fact of importance. Moreover, 
the researches which were made by Callaghan 
shortlv after the murder, and which I had sup- 



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260 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

to Paris, he had given to the police at Exeter 
some scrappy and Hi-explained notes; and on 
a subsequent visit, which I have mentioned, to 
Scotland Yard, he had handed in a long and 
over-elaborate memorandum. These now re- 
ceived justice. I must, therefore, attempt to 
state, with dry accuracy, the case which was 
actually presented against the accused 

Upon the fact that he had confessed his guilt, 
though indeed it reversed the surface improba- 
bility that a man in his position was a criminal, 
I must lay no separate emphasis. Neither judge 
nor prosecuting counsel did so. The defence 
dealt with it upon a theory which turned it to 
positive advantage. I myself can well conceive 
that a man, to whom his life was little and his 
reputation much, might have taken the risk of a 
false confession to us in the hope of binding us 
to silence. 

But, to begin, Peters was without doubt 



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the report was false ; but he never reappeared ; 
several witnesses (traced out by the enquiry of 
the police in the East) appeared at the trial, and 
swore that Vane-Cartwright had often spoken 
of Longhurst's sailing in that ship ; yet he must, 
according to Mr. Bryanston's evidence, have 
known that this was false; and, according to 
the same evidence, he had been in Longhurst's 
company after the time when the rest of Long- 
hurst's neighbours last saw him. From this 
(though the other proved facts of their con- 
nexion amounted to little more than they were 
reputed partners) it followed that Vane-Cart- 
wright was in a position in which suspicion of foul 
play towards Longhurst might easily fall on him. 

Next, Peters at the time of his death not 
merely entertained this suspicion but was taking 
steps to obtain proof of its truth ; for there 
were his letters to Bryanston and to Verschoyle 
still extant, and admissible in evidence as res 
gesta, the actual first steps which he had taken 
with this aim. 

Next, Vane-Cartwright knew of Peters' sus- 

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262 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

first evening when he had seen the two men 
together their intercourse had at first been easy, 
but that by the end of the evening something 
had happened which completely altered their 
manners ; the one became abstracted and aloof, 
the other eagerly watched him. Of the talk 
which caused this change Callaghan had only 
caught Peters' question, " sailed in what," but it 
was evident now to what that question referred. 
It was in itself strange that after this Vane- 
Cartwright should have availed himself of a 
general invitation given by Peters earlier, and 
have come rather suddenly to his house, putting 
off (as it was now shown) for that purpose a 
previous important engagement It was a 
sinister fact that, before he did so, he had set 
on foot mysterious enquiries, some of which re- 
lated to the two men to whom, in his presence, 
Peters had written letters about the affair of 
Longhurst, while the rest, though less obviously, 
appeared to be connected with the same matter. 
The first fruits of these enquiries (and they were 
telling) had been, by his arrangement, brought 
to him on the very afternoon before the murder. 
After the murder he had, it now seemed plain, 
stayed on at my house merely in the hope 



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of intercepting Bryanston's answer. By what 
means he knew that the sting of Dr. Verschoyle 
lay in his journals cannot be conjectured, but 
there was no mistaking the purpose with which, 
a little later, he obtained these journals by deceit 
Altogether his conduct had been that of a man in 
whom Peters had aroused an anxiety so intense 
as to form a possible motive for murdering him. 
And altogether his conduct after the murder 
bore, now that it could be fully traced, the 
flagrant aspect of guilt He had unlatched the 
window ; this was now certain, though of course 
of that act by itself an innocent account might 
be given. The reader knows too the whole 
course of his action in regard to Trethewy and 
his family, beginning with the lie, which made 
him appear as screening Trethewy when in fact 
he was plotting his undoing, and ending with his 
breaking in upon my talk with Ellen Trethewy, 
who had stood where she might have seen him 
making those tracks in the snow. The making 

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264 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

seen him in the field, where those tracks and no 
others were just afterwards found ; Ellen Tre- 
thewy had seen him start to go there and again 
seen him returning. Yet, though the two cor- 
roborated each other, there might be some doubt 
of the inference to be drawn from what Ellen 
Trethewy saw (that depended on knowledge of 
the ground), and of the correctness of the ob- 
servation made by Thalberg from afar. After 
all, was it absolutely impossible that Trethewy 
had through some strange impulse, rational or 
irrational, made those tracks himself, — perhaps, 
with his sense of guilt and in the over-refine- 
ment of half-drunken cunning, he had fabricated 
against himself a case which he thought he 
could break down. 

But here the late revealed evidence came in. 
It was certain, first, that those tracks did not 
exist in the morning. The constable who had 
let the trespassers come in stopped them when 
he found them, and noted carefully how far they 
had gone ; he got one of them, an enterprising 
young journalist, to verify his observation, and 
it resulted in this, that the part of the lawn where 
those guilty tracks began was absolutely un- 
trodden then. Next it was certain now that 



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throughout the time when those tracks were 
made Trethewy had been in his house. Now, 
when the whole course of events that morning 
was considered, there could be no doubt that 
those tracks were made by some one who knew 
exactly what the situation was, Since it was 
not Trethewy, it lay between Sergeant Speke, 
myself, Callaghan and Vane-Cartwright. Ser- 
geant Speke and I could easily give account of 
our time that day, but I think I mentioned that 
there had arisen some doubt as to where Cal- 
laghan had been just at the critical hour. It 
was explained now ; Callaghan had been too far 
away ; just at that time he had gone again to 
the hotel, moved by one of his restless impulses 
to try and spy upon Thalberg. It lay then 
beyond doubt that the tracks were made by 
Vane-Cartwright, and it was beyond doubt why 
he made them. 

But the case did not rest there. The front 
door of Grenvile Combe had been bolted on the 
inside that night, before Peters died. Presum- 
ably Peters did it ; anyway Vane-Cartwright and 
Callaghan, as they had said next morning, found 
it bolted when they came down disturbed by the 
noise, and themselves bolted it again ; and Peters 



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366 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

was then living, for they heard him in his room. 
The other doors had been bolted in like manner 
by the servants. Every window but two had 
also been latched. The doors had remained 
bolted till the servants were about in the morn- 
ing, when Peters must have been some hours 
dead. The fastened windows were still fastened 
when we came to the house (a window in the 
back servants' quarters had been open for a 
short while in the morning, but the servants 
had been about all the time), for the constable, 
before he obeyed the Sergeant and began his 
search outside, had been in every room and 
noticed every fastening. The two exceptions 
were Vane-Cartwright's own open window, 
which did not matter, and the little window at 
the back, already named as a possible means of 
entrance. Careful experiment had now been 
made (Callaghan had long ago suggested it), 
and it showed that, whoever could climb to that 
window, only an infant could pass through it 



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inmate of the house, by the housemaid, or by the 
cook, or by Vane-Cartwright, or by Callaghan. 
Now the housemaid and the cook had passed a 
wakeful night ; the disturbance in the road had 
aroused them and left them agitated and alarmed ; 
each was therefore able to swear that the other 
had remained all night in the bedroom which 
they shared Therefore, Peters was murdered 
either by Vane-Cartwright or by Callaghan. 

And why not, it might be asked, by Callaghan, 
against whom at one time such good grounds 
of suspicion were to be found? The reader 
must by this time have seen that the eccentric 
and desultory proceedings of Callaghan, even 
his strange whim of staying in that crime- 
stricken house and the silly talk with which he 
had put me off about his aim, had, as he once 
boasted to me, a method, which though odd and 
over-ingenious, was rational and very acute. 
The neglected memorandum he had made for 
the police was enough in itself (without his 
frankness under cross-examination) to set his 
proceedings since the murder in a clear light 
Callaghan, moreover, was the life-long friend of 
Peters. True it was that (as the defence scented 
out) he had owed Peters ,£2,000, and Peters' will 



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268 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

forgave the debt True, but it was now proved 
no less true, that since that will was made the 
debt had been paid, and paid in a significant 
manner. Callaghan had first remitted to Peters 
^500 from India. Peters, thereupon, had sent 
Callaghan an acquittance of the whole debt. 
Callaghan s response was an immediate payment 
of ^250 more. And the balance, ,£1,250, had 
been paid a very few days before Peters was 
killed. This was what an ill-inspired cross- 
examination revealed, and if the guilt lay be- 
tween Vane-Cartwright and Callaghan, there 
could be no doubt which was the criminal. 

So Callaghan and I had gone through tangled 
enquiries and at least some perilous adventures 
to solve a puzzle of which the solution lay all 
the while at our feet, and at the feet of others. 

It would be melancholy now to dwell on the 
daring and brilliance of the defence. No wit- 
ness was called for it. It opened with a truly 
impressive treatment of Vane-Cartwright's con- 
fession ; and the broken state of his tempera- 
ment, originally sensitive and now harassed by 
suspicion and persecution, was described with 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 269 

hard man in the dock a transient glow of 
human sympathy. Every other part of his 
conduct, so far as it was admitted, was made 
the subject of an explanation, by itself plausible. 
But little was admitted. Every separate item 
of the evidence was made the subject of a doubt, 
by itself reasonable. If a witness had been 
called to tell some very plain matter of fact, that 
kind of plain fact under one's eyes was notori- 
ously the sort of thing about which the most 
careless mistakes were made. If a witness had 
had a longer tale to tell he had revealed some 
poisonous pre-possession. I, for example, a 
most deleterious type of cleric, had, besides a 
prejudice against unorthodox Vane-Cartwright, 
an animus to defend Trethewy, arising from 
that sickly sentiment towards Miss Trethewy 
which I betrayed when I fled to her from my 
ailing family at Florence. In Trethewy's case 
again there had been a confession of a very 
different order ; and the suggestion was dexter- 
ously worked that something still lay concealed 
behind Trethew/s story. Withal the vastness 
of the region of possibility was exhibited with 
vigorous appeals to the imagination. Strong 
in every part, the defence as a whole was bound 



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270 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

to be weak ; the fatality which made so many 
lies and blunders work together for evil was 
beyond belief; the conduct which needed so 
much psychology to defend it was indefensible. 
So the verdict was given and the sentence 
was passed 



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CHAPTER XXIII. 

Once again I saw William Vane-Cartwright. 
At his own request I was summoned to visit 
him in the gaol. It was not the interview of 
penitent and confessor; none the less I am 
bound to silence about it, even though my 
silence may involve the suppression of some- 
thing which tells in his favour. One thing I 
may and must say. Part of his object in send- 
ing for me was to make me his agent in several 
acts of kindness. 

As I look back, I often ask myself: Was 
there indeed no truth, beyond what we knew, 
in the tale that this man told to Callaghan and 
me, and which was skilfully woven to accord 
as far as possible with many things which we 
might have and had in fact discovered In 
point of vital facts it was certainly false. I 
could now disprove every syllable of that love 
story ; his acquaintance with Miss Denison was 
only a few months old ; she had never known 

V 1 



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272 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

Peters ; and the letter that he showed us was a 
forgery of course. I happen, moreover, too late 
for any useful purpose, to have met several 
people who knew Longhurst well ; all agree that 
he was rough and uncompanionable, all that he 
was strictly honest and touchingly kind ; all testify 
that in his later days he was a total abstainer 

Yet, in the face of this, I believe that Vane- 
Cartwright described fairly, as well as with in- 
sight, the influences which in boyhood and early 
manhood told so disastrously upon him. I now 
know, as it happens, a good deal about his 
parents, for one of my present neighbours was a 
family friend of theirs. They were a gifted but 
eccentric couple, with more "principles" than 
any two heads can safely hold Little as I like 
their beliefs, I cannot but suspect that their 
home life was governed by a conscientiousness 
and a tender affection for their child, from 
which, if he had wished to be guided right, 
some light must have fallen on his path. Yet 
without doubt their training was as bad a pre- 
paration as could be for what he was to under- 



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Almost everything in his surroundings there 
jarred upon his sensibility which on the aesthetic 
side was more than commonly keen. Dozens 
of English lads pass through just such trials 
unshaken, some even unspotted, but they have 
been far otherwise nurtured than he. Peters 
too had an influence upon his youth. I, who 
knew Peters so well, know that he cannot have 
done the spiteful things which Vane-Cartwright 
said, but I do not doubt for one moment that 
he did repel his young associate when he need 
not have done so. Peters was young too, and 
may well be forgiven, but I can imagine that 
by that chill touch he sped his comrade on the 
downward course which chanced to involve his 
own murder. 

Altogether it is easy enough to form some 
image, riot merely monstrous, of the way in 
which that character formed itself out of its sur- 
roundings ; to understand how the poor lad be- 
came more and more centred in himself; to 
praise him just in so far as that concentration 
was strength ; to note where that strength lay, 



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274 TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

That motive, a calculated resolve to be 
wealthy, to become detached in outward fact 
as he was already in feeling from the sort of 
people and the sort of surroundings amid which 
his present lot was cast, had already been 
formed when the partnership with Longhurst 
offered him his opportunity. One may well 
believe him that the three years of that partner- 
ship cost him much. His one companion was 
a man whom, I take it, he was incapable of 
liking, and his position at first was one of sub- 
jection to him. He had lied to us much about 
Longhurst, but I fancy that he had spoken 
of him with genuine, however unjust, dislike. 
What particular fraud he played upon him, or 
whether it was, strictly speaking, a fraud at all, 
I do not know. But no doubt he was by nature 
mean (though ready enough to spend money), 
and he was probably more mean when his 
strength was not full fledged and his nascent 



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many relations of life, harder than laymen think 
to keep quite out of reach of the law by any 
less painful course than that of positive honesty. 
Let us suppose that he did only the sort of 
thing which his own confession implied, obtain- 
ing for himself alone the renewal of concessions 
originally made to his firm. Even so, I under- 
stand, he may have found himself in this posi- 
tion, that Longhurst would have been entitled 
to his share (the half or perhaps much more, 
according to the terms of partnership) of 
extremely valuable assets upon which Vane- 
Cartwright had counted as his own. Moreover, 
that possibly stupid man would have had his 
voice about the vital question of how and when 
to sell this property. 

Even if this was all, it still meant that the 
hope upon which Vane-Cartwright had set 
his soul, the hope not of a competence but of 
eminent wealth, was about to slip away, and to 
slip away perhaps irretrievably. For, as I 
have lately learnt, he was then ill, could not 
remain in that climate, would not, if he fell down 



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276 TRACKS IN THE SNOW . 

which then arose he was not the man to set 
his personal safety in the scales against his 
ambition. And so the incredible deed was 
done, and fortune favoured the murderer with 
the report that his victim had been lost in a 
wrecked ship (possibly even he had met with 
that report before he killed him). Hencefor- 
ward, watchful as he had to be for a while, the 
chief burden which his guilt laid upon him was 
that of bearing himself with indifference. 

Thirteen years had passed, years of unvary- 
ing success. The watchfulness was now seldom 
needed, and the indifference had become a pose. 
And so at last, on his first evening at Grenvile 
Combe, he fell talking in his wonted way of 
Longhurst, and gave that false account of his 
end to one of the only two living men with 
whom it behoved him to take care. Instantly 
the spectre of his crime, which he thought had 
been laid, confronted him, and confronted him, 
as some recollection warned him, with the real 
peril of public shame, perhaps conviction and 
death. Instantly too there arose, as if to his 
aid, not as yet the full strength of his intellect 
and courage, but the ingrained, dormant spirit of 
crime. If he had only said to Peters, " He sailed 



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in the Eleanor with me. I killed him. I will 
tell you all about it/ 1 I have not a shadow of a 
doubt that his confession would have been kept 
inviolate. Only there were trials from which 
even his nerve recoiled, and plain facts of human 
nature which his acuteness never saw. So the 
same deed was done again in quiet reliance upon 
that wonderful luck which this time also had 
provided him with a screen against suspicion, 
and this time also seemed to require nothing of 
him after the act was accomplished except to 
bear himself carelessly. Indeed, though he 
began to bear himself carelessly too soon — for 
he trusted characteristically that Peters had this 
night followed the practice of opening the win- 
dow, which he was oddly fond of preaching, 
and he left the room without troubling to look 
behind the curtain — his confidence seemed justi- 
fied. There was nothing in the room or in the 
house, nothing under the wide vault of that star- 
lit sky that was destined to tell the tale. 

Morning brought to his eyes, though not yet 
to his comprehension, the .presence of a huge 
calamity, for the ground was white with snow in 
which, if Trethewy had come through it, his 
tracks would still be seen. Soon he heard that 



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Trethewy had in fact come home when the 
snow lay there. Then at last his whole mind 
rose to the full height of the occasion, to a height 
of composure and energy from which in all his 
later doings he never declined far. I have an 
unbounded hatred for that prevalent worship of 
strong men which seems to me to be born of 
craven fear. Yet it extorts my most unwilling 
admiration of this man that, when safety de- 
pended so much upon inaction, the only action 
he took was such as at once was appallingly 
dangerous and yet was the only way to avoid an 
even greater peril 

But strangely enough as I shut my mind 
against that haunting memory which I have 
written these pages to expel, far different traits 
and incidents from this keep longest their hold 
upon my imagination. I remember Peters not 
as he died but as he lived ; and the murderer 
stands before me, as I take my leave, not in 
virtue of signal acts of crime (which I could more 
easily have forgiven) but of little acts, words, 
even tones of hardness and of concentrated 
selfishness, faintly noted in my story, rendered 
darker to me by the knowledge that he could 
be courteous and kind when it suited, him. He 



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TRACKS IN THE SNOW 279 

stands there as the type to me, not of that rare 
being the splendid criminal, but of the man 
who in the old phrase is "without bowels". 
And men (on whose souls also may God have 
mercy) are not rare among us, who, without his 
intellect or his daring, are as hard as he, but for 
whom, through circumstances — not uncommon 
and I do not call them fortunate — the path of 
consistent selfishness does not diverge from the 
path of a respectable life. 

Strangely too, one of those lesser acts of un- 
kindness was needed to bring about his downfall 
If I had never seen him at Florence, the spark 
of my baffled ire would not have been rekindled, 
nor could I have met Trethewy's family till they 
had gone beyond the seas. And I should never 
have seen him at Florence but that my wife, 
who did not know his name, recalled upon seeing 
him that little delinquency at Crema of which 
she and I can think no longer with any personal 
spleen. It seems as if he might have murdered 
his partner and murdered his host with cruel 



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28o TRACKS IN THE SNOW 

machinery of fate, and it came to pass in the 
end that the red hand of the law seized him and 
dealt to him the doom which the reader has long 
foreseen. 

Let some surviving characters of this story 
briefly bid farewell. For my wife and me, we 
are settled in our country rectory, so near in 
distance to London and in effect so far off ; and, 
if the now delightful labours of my calling seem 
to me not more unsuccessful than perhaps they 
should always seem to the labourer, I like to 
think it means that what Eustace Peters, half- 
unknowing, did for me abides. 

Callaghan was our guest not two months ago, 
a welcome guest to us, and even more to our 
children. He talked alternately of a project of 
land reclamation on the Wash and of an immedi- 
ate departure for the East in search of a clue to 
the questions left unsolved in these pages. He 
has since departed from this country, not, I be- 
lieve, for the East, but neither we nor any of his 
friends know where he is, or doubt that wherever 
he is, he can take care of himself and will hurt 
no other creature. Mr. Thalberg continues his 
law business in the City, though the business 



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has changed in character. I bear him no ill : 
will, and yet am sorry to be told that (while the 
disclosures in the trial lost him several old clients, 
as well as his clerk, Mr. Manson) on the whole 
his business has grown. Trethewy is now our 
gardener. His daughter is a board-school mis- 
tress in London. I hope he will long remain 
with us, for I now like him as a man but could 
not lay it upon my conscience to recommend 
him as a gardener. Peters' nephews, unseen by 
the reader, have hovered close in the background 
of my tale. Both have distinguished themselves 
in India Yesterday I married the elder to 
Miss Denison, on whom, I hope, the reader 
has bestowed a thought In the other, who 
is engaged to my eldest daughter, his uncle's 
peculiar gifts repeat themselves more markedly 
and with greater promise of practical achieve- 
ment 



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This Book is Due 



10 1923 



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